Managing The Burden Of Paperwork As A Reservist

This post is intended to gauge opinion and start discussion rather than me ranting or venting my spleen. It is commonplace for Reservists to fill posts that often generate a lot of paperwork such as OC, 2ic, TO, CSM, et al. There are lots of us who take our jobs (relatively) seriously and like to spend an amount of time appropriate to any task doing it to the best of our ability. With One Army being bandied around and all paperwork whether it be for G1/G3/G4 or G7 developed and measured against its effectiveness within the Regular Army I was interested in how those holding the type of posts mentioned above manage the demand.

From my experience (as a Regular soldier and Officer too) lots of paperwork is completed on personal laptops/computers. This is and obvious security issue and breaks most DPA rules in one hit. That said, many have done it (guilty as charged). Now, as a Reservist, I'm attempting to break the habit and I've realised that drill nights don't offer enough time. I'm fairly fortunate enough to be able to drop in casually and chip away at my workload but others are not so lucky (I rarely sign in unless there for 2 hours or more, that's my choice whilst being aware that there are limits on MTDs and there are other better uses for my MTDs).

I suppose in short my questions are:

How do you manage your responsibilities and steadily increasing paperwork demands as a Reservist? i.e. SJAR, OJAR, MPAR, EASP, RASP, MELs, Risk Ass, Admin Instr, etc.

Could the system help Reservists more?

Do the current limitations on MTD allow you to juggle all of your responsibilities in post?
 
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potter

Old-Salt
As an OC, how do I manage?

Rigorous prioritisation, lots of very late nights at home (on a non-DII laptop), and a very understanding wife and kids. I live and work far too far away from the TAC to just pop in and do stuff so unless I did it at home, and sometimes 'in my lunch hour', it just would not happen. And as we're still lumbered with the same level of MS as our Regular counterparts, it's simply not fair on the troops if it's not done to time and to the correct standard.

I'm blessed with the best PSAO of the 10+ I've worked with, who filters a lot of the c**p before I have to waste time on it. I'm also lucky that Bn are extremely understanding and minimise bone questions and zero-notice taskers.

Could the system help more? Of course - thin down the requirements (MS, Bn conference reports, RFCA reports), and provide secure, remote IT. Unlikely, and on the latter point, possibly about to be alleviated by the new Government Security Classification system - so long as people don't insist that everything we do is OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE.

And for MTDs? I approach all my tasks professionally, and not as a hobby. If I give up 2-3 evenings a week at home to get things done in the correct way and to the correct depth, then I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a level of recompense commensurate to the time invested. Although my MTD claim probably reflects no more than 40-50% of the actual time I spend on things, I think that it's important that the system sees the amount of time that people have to commit - and I insist that my SNCOs and Officers do the same.
 
It isn't just did side of the Irish Sea then?

I suppose being able to delegate (to responsible individuals who know what they are doing helps).

I suppose online secure portals even to the application forms etc that can then at least be completed at home.

E-signatures

Get rid of jobworth paperwork.

Combine forms so less to fill out
 

sundance

War Hero
I ignore the rules and do it at home on my own PC or during quiet periods in work, largely unpaid, as do the majority of my peers. With the best will in the world around IT security etc its the only way to make it work without spending all my awake free time at the TAC

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The_Duke

LE
Moderator
Nothing like ignoring rules, particularly around IT Security, as a good way to make new friends who will call past for a quick chat.

Of course.

GCHQ is constantly on the look out for:

"Pte Snodgrass has been employed as a rifleman throughout the reporting period. During this period, he has attended the Bn annual camp where he successfully attended the GS Land rover conversion course..." (Continue to add typical SJAR of absolutely zero interest to anyone, probably including the subject, 1RO and 2RO).

Until they provide regular DII access to all commanders, they have a choice of it being done on personal IT or not being done at all. Given the hugely sensitive nature of most Reserve staffwork, I don't think that the world will stop turning any time soon.
 
Of course.

GCHQ is constantly on the look out for:

"Pte Snodgrass has been employed as a rifleman throughout the reporting period. During this period, he has attended the Bn annual camp where he successfully attended the GS Land rover conversion course..." (Continue to add typical SJAR of absolutely zero interest to anyone, probably including the subject, 1RO and 2RO).

Until they provide regular DII access to all commanders, they have a choice of it being done on personal IT or not being done at all. Given the hugely sensitive nature of most Reserve staffwork, I don't think that the world will stop turning any time soon.

Indeed the world might not stop turning, and I agree that Pte Snoggrass may not be a primary target for HIS, however there are certain pers in recent history who have come to interest, Preston for example.

The point I was trying to make, badly, that if certain docs can be produced off-line then they should be reclassified as such. And in the case in point it should be escalated appropriately to decide on the caveat.

PS Congrats to Pte Snodgrass on his conversion course. I managed to do mine without attending due to it being automatically put on my docs.
 
Greetings and Salutations,
Back in the day '' pull up a sand bag grasshopper'' we, us, the few, would flick in for a MTD or three, when probed about said practises, the simple answer would be, '' as well as doing phiz in are own time, we haven't got any time left'' As one astute gentleman did, cut and paste all reports, just amend names dates, the higher order soon get the hint........

pip pip....................
 

The_Duke

LE
Moderator
Indeed the world might not stop turning, and I agree that Pte Snoggrass may not be a primary target for HIS, however there are certain pers in recent history who have come to interest, Preston for example.

The point I was trying to make, badly, that if certain docs can be produced off-line then they should be reclassified as such. And in the case in point it should be escalated appropriately to decide on the caveat.

PS Congrats to Pte Snodgrass on his conversion course. I managed to do mine without attending due to it being automatically put on my docs.

The vast majority of it is not to do with classification, but access to systems.

Reports have to be done on JPA, which tends to be taken down for work over weekends and evenings. Hence, the bulk of the work gets done at home, ready to C&P into JPA on the off chance that it might be working when you are in.

The rest of the paperwork tends to be training related. If any of it could be deemed sensitive, I suppose dates and times might - at a very long stretch - just about fit that description. Type it up at home, send it to yourself (sans dates) and add the oh so sensitive detail that a reserve unit is likely to be parading at their centre on a Friday night, and moving off to a training area a few hours afterwards on your DII terminal.

Operational stuff and some J2, fine. Just about everything else has no intelligence value above and beyond what could be gleaned from a quick scan of facebook and watching the gates of the Centre over a weekend or two.
 
Wise words from The Duke. It seems as though the general consensus, albeit from a limited response, is that the system is poorly setup for Reservists. I hope this message has made its way up the CoC.

If we expect a quality and capable reserve we need resourcing and administering appropriately.

My suggestion is that posts that require an extra commitment, particular for staffwork, are identified and when boarded only take those into consideration that are both happy to commit the extra time and capable, they are out there. Personal carreer progression should surely come at a price and any post that furthers your career (even if it is part time) should have an adequate commitment in return for the opportunity. That has to be fair. At present those in these posts can perform poorly and justifiably blame the system.

Obviously any extra time allowance would need costing and paid for but at least as reservists you'd be getting a fair days money for a fair day of work. At present the reserve offers huge value for money when it comes to this issue so a little more spent would only make it a fairer deal than as it currently stands.

We all know that CoC should support the effective management of their troops because if management fail, retention suffers.

We are spending a fortune on recruitment but not a penny on retention. There are easy wins when managing troops if you are given enough time but it is obvious at present we are not.

Were it not for the diligence on those that have expressed their views on this thread and the others like them our troops wouldn't get what they deserve.



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Absolutely, I mentioned the Data Protection Act (DPA) in the original post and not until now has it been picked up on. Security classifications can be bypassed as The Duke clearly explained but storing people's data in a non compliant manner seems enough to call in a firing squad nowadays if caught.

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The problem is the reserves being burdened with the same admin nonsense that the regular army likes to burden itself with but without the resources or time to sort it out. A real "one army" would see a less time consuming system put in place for the reserves which would then be adopted by the regulars.
Unlikely to happen though.....
 

polar

LE
A real "one army" would see a less time consuming system put in place for the reserves which would then be adopted by the regulars.
Unlikely to happen though.....

lol. It does do. Mostly G6 cell focused but the plan was

1. Distract NRPS with a golf course
2. Listen to regular army best practice such as moving standard G6 info to SOP's and only issuing changing info. (Cut many 10+ page documents down to one A4)
3. Listen to modern civilian practice in how to use information technology (which basically meant using DII to send messages and sighting dets next to DII terminals).

Above saved my old regiment from the chop on the cutback before last.
 
M

Mr_Logic

Guest
The problem is the reserves being burdened with the same admin nonsense that the regular army likes to burden itself with but without the resources or time to sort it out. A real "one army" would see a less time consuming system put in place for the reserves which would then be adopted by the regulars.
Unlikely to happen though.....

Until a few years ago and before we began doing SJARs on JPA, the TA version of the AF 2048 was shorter than the Regular version. I recall that as it only allowed eight lines of narrative, the report had to be short, pithy and functional. It was an excellent example of something being entirely fit for purpose for the TA, so had to go.

You have to remember that many of these 'One Army' initiatives are implemented by Regular HQs who have no understanding that TA personnel do not live in married quarters, cannot be compelled to attend training, have another employer who helps them pay their mortgages. The people who should be fighting for TA/Army Reserve personnel and the balance of training and adminstration they are required to do are TA/Army Reserve senior officers, surely?
 
M

Mr_Logic

Guest
As an OC, how do I manage?

Rigorous prioritisation, lots of very late nights at home (on a non-DII laptop), and a very understanding wife and kids. I live and work far too far away from the TAC to just pop in and do stuff so unless I did it at home, and sometimes 'in my lunch hour', it just would not happen. And as we're still lumbered with the same level of MS as our Regular counterparts, it's simply not fair on the troops if it's not done to time and to the correct standard.

I'm blessed with the best PSAO of the 10+ I've worked with, who filters a lot of the c**p before I have to waste time on it. I'm also lucky that Bn are extremely understanding and minimise bone questions and zero-notice taskers.

Could the system help more? Of course - thin down the requirements (MS, Bn conference reports, RFCA reports), and provide secure, remote IT. Unlikely, and on the latter point, possibly about to be alleviated by the new Government Security Classification system - so long as people don't insist that everything we do is OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE.

And for MTDs? I approach all my tasks professionally, and not as a hobby. If I give up 2-3 evenings a week at home to get things done in the correct way and to the correct depth, then I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a level of recompense commensurate to the time invested. Although my MTD claim probably reflects no more than 40-50% of the actual time I spend on things, I think that it's important that the system sees the amount of time that people have to commit - and I insist that my SNCOs and Officers do the same.

I commend your dedication.

In reply to your last paragraph, I would strongly urge you to submit claims for all time that you spend in completing any form of military activity or unit administration and should insist that your subordinates do the same. If you don't then your RHQ and CoC will not have visibility of the true cost of maintaining the capability that the unit delivers and will not make well informed resourcing decisions. The Army expects alot of people. They should pay accordingly.
 

marabout

Old-Salt
The above statement about billing is entirely correct. The CoC has to see the financial cost of the processes they implement and therefore be able to plan accordingly. Don’t let a miserly PSAO believe it is his own money and not pay for time done.

At Sub unit Level there is almost more to do outside trg time than in it. By the time planning, exercise instructions, PXRs, Orders, internal advertising, MS, recruiting articles for local papers / Facebook, liaising with POs, career planning, community engagement, employer engagement, recruiting plans etc your time is very limited. The vast majority of these will need to be delivered in training time and therefore has to be done on top of any regular Reserve commitment.

As a OC I was probably doing something pretty much everyday, evenings, lunchtimes and certainly most w/es you are not out. I would keep a rigorous timesheet of what I had done and what the time had achieved.

Of course we were not set up as we should have been, DII and the Units MOSS site access were always problematical as well as getting things sent to civi email accounts. It never really helped with everything being marked restricted as a matter of course and could easily lead to an info vacuum at sub unit level.

What the CoC has to realise is the time taken for each new bit of process designed to make us more ‘one army’. The Reserve CoC seems to be working harder to achieve the same result as before (10-15 yrs ago when a OC had no MS and only the CO wrote on WO2 and Offrs) just when we have a huge shortage in officers to actually do the work.

We need Reservists in staff appointments to influence what processes we have to do, but of course the good ones will all have jobs and will only be available at the w/e and so their comments won’t be heard and we end up where we are. We need One standard, different processes.
 
At Sub unit Level there is almost more to do outside trg time than in it. By the time planning, exercise instructions, PXRs, Orders, internal advertising, MS, recruiting articles for local papers / Facebook, liaising with POs, career planning, community engagement, employer engagement, recruiting plans etc your time is very limited. The vast majority of these will need to be delivered in training time and therefore has to be done on top of any regular Reserve commitment.

A much better list than I originally produced and clearly demonstrates the issue here. A well maintained time sheet is a great idea but there may be occasions where you run out of MTDs to claim. If on ADC or an additional voluntary training agreement you have very strict limits on MTDs. You wouldn't want to be in a situation where you work for free but we are... often.

I'm not a whiner by nature and in my other life I am an employer so see both side of the coin. I do not and will never expect my staff to work for free so why have CoC conveniently closed its eyes and ears to what it seems is a widespread issue. Equally as an employee of the crown I will volunteer my time to the benefit of the Unit and its troops as it seems many others will too.

I think the arbitrary/financially motivated limits placed on MTDs within each training year are too simplistically calculated and applied with a heavy hand. There should be an almost "modular" approach to MTD allocation taking into account each individual's specific role/responsibilities with a total allowance produced for that individual. To some that may sound like a lot of work but in reality for most it would remain unchanged. If a simple but flexible system of assessment was produced it would alleviate this issue in one action. This wouldn't be particularly difficult for the CoC to cost as it is a simple time/task analysis of what we do day to day (weekend to weekend).

We teach and are taught within the estimate process to conduct a time analysis for any given task. Is this not in our doctrine already and just needs to be applied to activities out with of conflict?
 
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mso

LE
We need Reservists in staff appointments to influence what processes we have to do, but of course the good ones will all have jobs and will only be available at the w/e and so their comments won’t be heard and we end up where we are. We need One standard, different processes.

Or regulars in staff appointments who listen to the reserve.

I do hope you have pre-approved the unsupervised PD of your soldiers (renewed every 6 months), given each soldier a prescribed training programme and (as their 1RO) are monitoring the progress of each subject in accordance with 2014DIN07-02.
 

Gremlin0790

Old-Salt
Great thread.

The trouble with the current system is that the proper amount of time and consideration required for sub-unit administration and communication, in addition to additional responsibilities of the planning, executing and following-up on training, appear like extra credit rather than the basic responsibilities of a command appointment.

I don't think that there is any escape from the fact that being a Reservist officer, when keeping up with the workload, is a bloody significant commitment. I find one of the biggest challenges is the added burden of 'mothering troops', i.e. ensuring they read and action emails via texts, phone calls, etc. as this conditions them into thinking this is how I should be spending my time (It also doesn't help that ArmyNet is completely crap for email.) I also find there is an added tension between spending weekends training with the troops and using training weekends for admin.

I'm going to light the blue touch paper and duck with this one: is it time for SNCOs and Officers to be salaried instead of pro-rata (only under certain conditions, of course)?
 
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