From the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center:
For the first time in over a decade, the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) served as host to the annual Army-wide Publications Council Meeting, held recently to provide members from organizations all over the Army with a forum to discuss topics related to equipment publications and new policies and procedures towards the development, management and sustainment of these publications.
The Council provides a forum for each command to present and resolve publications challenges, such as planning a strategy for supporting product teams whose programs require shorter and shorter fielding dates. In addition to presenting issues from Army project teams, members of the Publications Council (AR 15-3) discussed publication policy for the Army.
Most of all, it is the forum to establish Department of the Army policy through Publications Council consensus.
Amy Shipley, chief of the Publications and Provisioning Branch and a part of the Acquisition Logistics Division (ALD), represented ECBC at the meeting. Shipley, who also serves as the Equipment Publications Control Officer (EPCO) to uphold Department of the Army policy and procedures, works within the Center’s engineering product groups to create required technical manual publications for supply support equipment going to the warfighter.
“That’s where the Publications and Provisioning Branch comes in, providing the support and publications piece to give the warfighter the authorization and ability, via instructions, to use the equipment,” she said.
“I think many product teams at ECBC know they need a technical publication for their developmental system, but they don’t realize all that goes into creating one. For example, each publication requires an initial provisioning specialist to code spare and repair parts. That information is combined with the system’s maintenance concept and used to develop the technical manual. Each system has elements that require tailoring, and the Publications Council can use the lessons learned throughout the year to adjust policy in a way that provides better product support.”
When a warfighter is in the field, the manual is expected to be thorough and clear enough to guide the individual through each procedure to complete the needed task. According to Shipley, they “start from a blank slate,” assuming the warfighter who will be following the manual to operate a piece of equipment is not knowledgeable about the product.
“It’s a part of our verification process,” Shipley said. “We give the manual to warfighters, and they should be able to complete the task at hand (for example, change a filter) without outside assistance.”
When writing technical manuals, EPCOs like Shipley must abide by the established policy for providing product information for instruction and supply to the warfighter. The Army Material Command establishes many of these policies based on the results of Publications Council voting. Since there is one EPCO at every command across the country, the annual Publications Council Meeting becomes a necessary meeting point in order to provide accountability amongst the many EPCOs for publications procedures and to discuss changes on the horizon. Shipley actively communicates with Publications Council members in order to keep ECBC product team concerns in the forefront.
“We are experiencing a paradigm shift right now. We’re seeing a huge shift in the developmental process of a product,” Shipley said.
According to Shipley, there has been an increased demand for Urgent Need equipment, which has led to an increase in the integration of commercial equipment with traditional government development items. Though this integrated effort has certainly been used before, the shift in the government’s product development process has caused a major shift in the way publications are developed.
In addition to ECBC, this year’s participants included equipment publications representatives from commands including Research Development and Engineering Command, Logistics Support Activity, Armament Research Development and Engineering Center, Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command, TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, Army Publishing Directorate, Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command (CECOM), CECOM Communications Security Logistics Activity (CCSLA).
For more information about ECBC, visit http://www.ecbc.army.mil/.
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