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SLAMIS Nonstandard Line Item Number Module: Supporting the Total Army

The Standard Study Number-Line Item Number Automated Management and Integrating System (SLAMIS) is a Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA), Web-based data mart with a proven track record of automating and integrating acquisition processes involving multiple functional organizations. SLAMIS consolidates data from authoritative sources and provides visibility of key information across the life cycle of Army materiel. SLAMIS provides “cradle to grave” visibility of equipment acquisition from approval of requirements through funding, authorizing, fielding, and sustainment to retirement.

As the Global War on Terrorism and the concurrent transformation to a modular Army continue, commanders have become increasingly dependent on commercial off-the-shelf and Government off-the-shelf equipment and nondevelopmental items to fill mission requirements. Property book officers (PBOs) followed existing local procedures to account for these nonstandard items, which, Army-wide, resulted in the assignment of many different nonstandard line item numbers (NSLINs) to the same item. It was impossible to gather a consolidated Army-wide view of specific items because the Army did not have systems in place to gather data and provide NSLIN management information needed at the HQDA and Army Materiel Command (AMC) levels. Items such as add-on armor kits, Warlock force-protection systems, and John Deere M-Gators are prominent examples of items that cause frustration and confirm the need for the Army to centrally manage NSLINs and associated management control numbers (MCNs) for nonstandard items.

Visibility of Nonstandard Items

The HQDA Deputy Chief of Staff, G–4, led the initiative to develop a SLAMIS NSLIN module to build an infrastructure for nonstandard items that would provide the same level of visibility, accountability, and management support available for standard items. To do this, the G–4 had to accomplish the following—

• Create an Army NSLIN Master Catalog.
• Update NSLIN policies and procedures.
• Establish central control over the assignment of new NSLINs and MCNs.
• Develop systems interface arrangements among SLAMIS, the AMC Logistics Support Activity (LOGSA) Logistics Information Warehouse (LIW), and the Property Book Unit Supply Enhanced (PBUSE) and Defense Property Accounting System (DPAS) property reporting systems.
• Train PBOs and other key participants in central NSLIN management.
• Produce tailored management products to improve HQDA and AMC support of essential nonstandard items.
• Identify NSLIN candidates to be converted to standard items.

The decision to centralize management of NSLINs affects every organization and PBO in the Army. Even though the need for central NSLIN management is universally supported, managing its implementation in a way that minimizes disruption, particularly for deployed forces, is difficult.

The chart below illustrates the concept for Army central management of NSLINs and associated MCNs. The objective is to establish a management structure for NSLINs and MCNs that will operate as well as, and in concert with, the existing management structure for standard items. The solid lines indicate relationships that have already been implemented, and the dashed lines reflect enhancements that are being developed in 2006.

Module Implementation

The SLAMIS NSLIN module implemented on 26 July 2005 includes a baseline Army NSLIN Master Catalog and gives PBOs Web access so that they can view the NSLIN records in the Master Catalog and request new NSLINs and MCNs when Master Catalog records do not meet their needs. HQDA and program managers involved in pushing nonstandard items to the field also were given the capability to assign NSLINs to items before sending them to the field. This procedure mirrors that used for items with standard LINs and relieves the PBOs from having to obtain an NSLIN when equipment arrives.

How SLAMIS Works

The SLAMIS module assists users who are requesting NSLINs and MCNs by automatically filling in data values or by providing pick lists of valid values when possible. SLAMIS also uses electronic coordination features that automatically send requests for new NSLINs and MCNs to the appropriate “research cell.” Each of the seven research cells consists of commodity or specialized organizational experts who evaluate the request, assign data values required for each NSLIN Master Catalog record, and approve or disapprove each request. SLAMIS automatically provides email feedback to the requester and updates the NSLIN Master Catalog located in the LOGSA LIW. The PBO reporting systems are linked to the LIW NSLIN Master Catalog to enable PBOs world-wide to use the same NSLINs for like items regardless of their locations.

On 1 October 2005, PBUSE removed the capability previously available to the PBOs to assign their own NSLINs, added a hyperlink to SLAMIS for central assignment of NSLINs, and established links with LOGSA to include the NSLIN Master Catalog in the PBUSE application at the PBO level.

As of 22 February 2006, more than 15,000 NSLIN requests had been successfully submitted and the central NSLIN Master Catalog contained 22,000 NSLIN records. Features of the SLAMIS NSLIN module are continually being improved and enhanced based on user feedback and stakeholder input. As planned, the business rules and capability to change and update records in the NSLIN Master Catalog have recently been implemented so that NSLIN records can be maintained properly.

SLAMIS Training

Training opportunities have been offered throughout the development of the SLAMIS NSLIN module to PBOs; personnel in the research cells, HQDA, and AMC; program managers; and general users. HQDA is working towards institutionalizing SLAMIS training in the Warrant Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, Quartermaster Officer Basic Course, and the technical phase of the Quartermaster Center and School Noncommissioned Officer Academy’s unit supply specialist training. Training also is provided at the annual Worldwide Logistics Training Workshop held at LOGSA, at the Army National Guard’s annual logistics training conference, and at major Army command training forums when requested. The HQDA G–4 and the SLAMIS team also conducted a video teleconference training session for PBOs deployed in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. Sustainment training will continue to be a primary focus.

Still to Come

With the cooperation and support of PBOs and stakeholders throughout the Army, significant progress has been made since the initial implementation of the
SLAMIS NSLIN module less than a year ago. However, many challenges lie ahead, including efforts to—

• Align all Army property books with the central NSLIN Master Catalog.
• Institutionalize SLAMIS training in Army Training and Doctrine Command schools.
• Refine a long-term interface among SLAMIS, LIW, PBUSE, and DPAS.
• Finalize NSLIN tailored management products.
• Track the changing of NSLINs and MCNs to standard LINs and NSNs.
• Continue refinement of NSLIN module processes.
• Accommodate the Army’s future needs.

The world combat environment has changed, and commercial items now play a significant role in providing critical support to Soldiers. Central NSLIN management and the SLAMIS NSLIN module, which were recently established through the combined efforts of a wide range of stakeholders and support contractors, significantly improve the Army’s capability to support this new environment.

Minnie M. Everard is the class VII (major end items) manager in the Center for Logistics Policy, Processes, and Programs, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G–4, Department of the Army. She has a bachelor’s degree in management of technology from Athens State University and is a graduate of the Army Management Staff College’s Sustaining Base Leadership and Management Course.


Update to Previous Article on Central Management of NSLINs

The January–February issue of Army Logistician contained an article written by Chief Warrant Officer (W–5) David A. Dickson on “Centralization of Cataloging Procedures for Nonstandard Materiel.”

Mr. Dickson’s article emphasizes the need for Army central management of NSLINs and describes how complicated this initiative is. It is important to note that some of the details presented in his article were considered during the planning phase and changed before implementation of the SLAMIS NSLIN module in July 2005. For example, the proposed NSLIN structure and a single LOGSA Research Cell to process requests for new NSLINs were considered but were revised based on stakeholder input and feedback from proof-of-principle testing. Contrary to Mr. Dickson’s article, the Deputy Chief of Staff, G–4, Headquarters, Department of the Army, is no longer “. . . studying the possibility . . . ” but has already implemented the SLAMIS NSLIN module.

The development of the SLAMIS NSLIN module has been, and continues to be, guided by stakeholders Army-wide, and implementation of various features will follow a deliberate phased approach. Certain data exchange and interface actions involve multiple Army systems that must individually make arrangements to schedule and achieve the desired cohesive end result.

The article above presents an update on the Army’s efforts to establish and maintain accountability and visibility of NSLINs which, in turn, will provide better support to Soldiers in the field.

—Minnie M. Everard