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Council Records Screw ups


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#1 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 07:33 PM

Am I the only one who has a council that has major issues with advancement records?

 

Back when I was working with a pack, I would be the one turning in ARs and buying advancement because I worked about 10 minutes from a neighboring council's office. After my council sent a duplicate order of awards, I would write "DO NOT SEND AWARDS" (sic) and 1/2 the time they would send a second batch.

 

BUT THE AWARDS WOULD NOT BE RECORDED IN THE COUNCIL'S RECORDS (emphasis)

 

I remember hand delivering records to my council's office. Buy the awards. but once I got access to Internet Advancement, I discovered THE AWARDS WOULD NOT BE RECORDED IN THE COUNCIL'S RECORDS (emphasis).

 

I got into a heated discussion with the SE on this matter. He was jumping on my district's case about not having Cub Scout advancement on par with other districts. I told him about the instances above and said he needed to look at the council office. That's when other commissioners pointed out similar problems with those units that didn't do Internet Advancement. Apparently the council focused on Boy Scout advancement since it had to be reviewed in order to get Eagle. Cub Scouts not so much.

 

Since the person who did advancement with the troop stepped down, I picked it up. He didn't do IA. Going through it, I discovered all the new guys who earned Scout do not have it in their records. I'm wondering if Scout  ranks were not recorded since they were originally not ranks per se.

 

 


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#2 T2Eagle

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 09:41 PM

I don't think Scout was ever recorded prior to its becoming a rank. I'm not even sure it could have been. When you say new guys, do you mean guys earning the new Scout rank or just guys who came in under he old regime?
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#3 qwazse

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 07:44 AM

Am I the only one who has a council that has major issues with advancement records?

 

I believe we've had fewer kerfuffles.

BUT, as a consequence of internet advancement, national has asked councils to take on a "big brother" role over advancement tracking using existing staff. That includes time spent training volunteers in using the system correctly.

 

Needless to say, without added staff (or more often, with reduced staff), if there is more work to be done making IA work and ensuring YPT is ubiquitous, there is less work for recruitment and program building.


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#4 fred johnson

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 09:07 AM

Am I the only one who has a council that has major issues with advancement records?

 

A few years ago, there was huge confusion when our council stopped entering paper submitted sheets into the BSA online database.  It was a volunteer role and it would not always be timely or accurate.  As virtually 100% of units had online capabilities, the council viewed it now as a unit job to enter the data.  Some units did not notice or realize the significance.  they would bring paper advancement records to the scout shop and buy the awards.  AND, they would assume someone was entering the data.  Nope.  The confusion was no one was entering the data.

 

I wonder if you are in the same situation.  Did your council announce awhile ago it would not enter the data?  When our council announced it, it was an announcement that was easy to miss.  Sent to everyone.  But everyone did not understand the implications and everyone did not read the message.

 

Once we started doing online advancement, we've had 100% accuracy.  


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#5 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 05:23 PM

No the council did not mention it's mandatory, or strongly encouraged it. If it was mandatory, or strongly encouraged, The Scout Exec would have told me when I mentioned how records were not being recorded.

 

Problem where we are at is some folks are out in the boonies. High speed internet is not available in some areas. And the internet companies are no help either. Remember that FCC ruling saying a government utility service could provide internet service outside their city limits, and SCOTUS later stated the FCC ruling violated law? That was one of the cities in my council trying to expand the high speed internet service to areas in the county because internet providers would not do it.

 

I had to do live YPT for some folks because they could not do it online in a reasonable time. To test it our, I tried to redo my YPT at their facility, and I was unable to get through the first 10 minutes of the online training in 90 minutes!


Edited by Eagle94-A1, 13 September 2017 - 05:46 PM.

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#6 Chisos

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 06:40 PM


Once we started doing online advancement, we've had 100% accuracy.  

 

I've often compared this to the ability to order a pizza online, rather than call it in.  Problems are rare to nonexistent if I do it myself.


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#7 Wëlënakwsu

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Posted 13 September 2017 - 08:54 PM

     My Council has had issues for as long as I can remember over 30 years thru different Professional staff, Advancement chairs, systems, etc.

     In the era of the paper Advancement Reports, the problems included illegible hand writing and matching names on the Report with names in the membership roster due to name variation, lapsed registration, etc. At various times they were not input by anyone.  Reports not getting from National Scout Shop to Council office.  Same problems wether volunteer or office staff doing the entry.  Seems often the task might not have had Scout Executive's backing to improve.

     Currently reporting only on-line by the Unit which makes sense to me, but as a District Commissioner I quickly learned the Units who didn't submit paper don't update their on-line records. Only time it mattered was when an Eagle candidate from a lax Troop submitted his application.

     Suggestions I tried to no avail (as expected) to push up the Council - Region - National chain to ease record keeping was first (minor) eliminate Merit Badge reporting & second (major) eliminate all reporting and rely on the annual rechartering membership update to monitor the advancement method of Scouting.

     Side note... One similarity between some bosses at my job and some BSA professional or volunteer leaders... if a report is printed out from the computer system it's assumed to be accurate, despite advise that the info is far from 100% accuracy.

 


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#8 mgood777

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 08:04 AM

I've struggled with advancement records since I was a Scout in the eighties trying to get my Eagle when National had no record of some of my merit badges.

I understand "out in the boonies." Most of my Scouting has been in rural districts.

 

The District Advancement Committee is often just one person who deals mostly with approving Eagle projects and organizing Eagle BORs, in addition to his other duties as Scoutmaster or whatever. I'd like to encourage one person from each unit, or at least one from each town, to be a member of an actual District Advancement Committee. It would probably be the unit advancement people. This group could stay in contact with council to make sure advancement reports are being entered. Possibly working through the Council Advancement Chairman, but more likely dealing directly with the professional responsible for entering the information at the council office. Unit Commissioners could help with communication here since all these people might not be inclined to hold regular meetings. One of a Commissioner's four Primary Focus Areas is "linking unit needs to district resources." Unfortunately in many rural districts, the Commissioners and District Committee are mostly just on paper and do very little. When someone is passionate about a problem, perhaps they can be recruited to actually help do something about it. Communication is the problem here with your advancement reports. Finding people willing to make sure all of the info is up to date and stay on the council about it would be a step in the right direction. An active district or council advancement person responsible for just that might be better able to get results.


Edited by mgood777, 14 September 2017 - 08:06 AM.

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#9 fred johnson

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 09:18 AM

... Unfortunately in many rural districts, the Commissioners and District Committee are mostly just on paper and do very little. When someone is passionate about a problem, perhaps they can be recruited to actually help do something about it. Communication is the problem here with your advancement reports. Finding people willing to make sure all of the info is up to date and stay on the council about it would be a step in the right direction. An active district or council advancement person responsible for just that might be better able to get results.

 

Ultimately, units are responsible for their own data.  Period.  Scouting is a pyramid.  40 scouts per unit.  40 units per district.  5 to 20 districts per council.  200+ councils per BSA.  Each higher level can identify failure points and push the lower level to do better.  But ultimately if Johnny is missing a merit badge, it's Johnny and his unit leaders that own the issue.

 

If units don't want to use online advancement, then they can ask the council registrar to run a report and mail it to them.  They can identify errors and send back requests to get the data fixed.  If they don't have online access at home, drive to a McDonalds get online access.  Or if they don't have a computer, drive to a library to use the library computer.  Paper may still be supported, but it's hard to argue that units can't find a way to access the online tools.  

 

Councils can't be held accountable to get it entered exactly right as I've seen the hand-written forms many units hand in.  Hard to read.  Mistakes.  Name confusion between brothers and scouts that share similar names.  As long as the unit walks out with the right merchandise, the unit thinks the adv report is good.  My experience is that most hand-written advancement reports are moderate hard to vey hard to enter correctly.  Council staff and volunteers can do their best, but it's the units that own their own data and need to make sure it's right.  

 

KEY POINT - If units don't want to or can't use online advancement, then those units need to find their own process to regularly get their official records, audit them and then drive the corrections.  

 

District and council adv committees can push for improvements in processes and identify failure points, but they will never take on "handling" the individual advancement records and definitely not chasing each point of data entry confusion.  I've been on our district advancement committee for years and have sat in the council advancement committee.  It's just not in the scope of the district and council adv committee roles.

 

http://www.scouting....r/pdf/34739.pdf    Per official BSA training and documentation, the district advancement committee doesn't review individual submitted advancement forms.  Nor do they see those forms.  Those are kept at the council level.  Some councils have staff or volunteers enter the data.  Other councils as units to enter the data.  The districts can push back on the council to improve and districts can identify failure modes and suggest fixes.  Even the council advancement committee doesn't deal with individual paper.  They deal with requests for exceptions to normal requirements and generally monitor the advancement program as a whole.  


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#10 Col. Flagg

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 10:59 AM

Ultimately, units are responsible for their own data.  Period.    

 

Well said!

 

It's almost a full time job making sure our data isn't somehow screwed up by BSA. For Pete's sake, we submitted a change in unit leader form a few weeks back, and somehow Council anointed one of our leaders NOT involved in the leadership change as the new unit lead. It could not have been any clearer: Change Bob Smith from SM to ASM, make John Johnson SM from ASM.

 

Somehow Sandy Sanders was made unit lead and everyone else changed to ASMs. Then the TC Chair gets a note that Sandy is not trained for her position. No kidding!!!  :rolleyes:


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#11 mgood777

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 06:53 PM

Ultimately, units are responsible for their own data.  Period. 

 

I agree. I was just thinking of ways the district could help. Thinking out loud, sort of. We have to do a lot of hand holding or we wouldn't have a lot of what we do have here. For example, ILS-T is supposed to be taught at the troop level. I'm helping teach it at as a council level event next weekend because very few of our troops are doing it. And it's a prerequisite for NYLT. I'm the Scoutmaster next year of the first NYLT this council has had in about 10 years.

 

 

It's almost a full time job making sure our data isn't somehow screwed up by BSA. . . . Change Bob Smith from SM to ASM, make John Johnson SM from ASM.

 

Somehow Sandy Sanders was made unit lead and everyone else changed to ASMs. Then the TC Chair gets a note that Sandy is not trained for her position. No kidding!!!  :rolleyes:

 

Sounds depressingly familiar.


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#12 Chisos

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 07:45 PM

For example, ILS-T is supposed to be taught at the troop level. I'm helping teach it at as a council level event next weekend because very few of our troops are doing it. And it's a prerequisite for NYLT. I'm the Scoutmaster next year of the first NYLT this council has had in about 10 years.

 

Are ILST completions recorded somewhere? I couldn't find anywhere to put it in Internet Advancement.


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#13 Cleveland Rocks

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 10:11 AM

ILST is a training activity, not advancement, so it wouldn't get recorded in Internet Advancement.  It might get recorded in ScoutNET in a person's training record by the council registrar, although I don't know if ScoutNET keeps track of youth training like it does for us adults.


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#14 Chisos

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 01:38 PM

ILST is a training activity, not advancement, so it wouldn't get recorded in Internet Advancement.  It might get recorded in ScoutNET in a person's training record by the council registrar, although I don't know if ScoutNET keeps track of youth training like it does for us adults.

 

I couldn't find it in IA, thought it might be in the Awards section (like BSA Lifeguard, Snorkeling BSA, stuff like that).  In my.scouting.org I can go to Add Training and find it, but only add it to Adult profiles (which of course doesn't make any sense).  I guess if it's to be recorded anywhere the registrar will have to do it.  It's not a big deal for me, just if one of them wants to go on and to NYLT it is the pre-req.  But maybe that's just verified by the Scoutmaster or something.


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#15 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 03:00 PM

Ultimately, units are responsible for their own data.  Period.  Scouting is a pyramid.  40 scouts per unit.  40 units per district.  5 to 20 districts per council.  200+ councils per BSA.  Each higher level can identify failure points and push the lower level to do better.  But ultimately if Johnny is missing a merit badge, it's Johnny and his unit leaders that own the issue.

 

If units don't want to use online advancement, then they can ask the council registrar to run a report and mail it to them.  They can identify errors and send back requests to get the data fixed.  If they don't have online access at home, drive to a McDonalds get online access.  Or if they don't have a computer, drive to a library to use the library computer.  Paper may still be supported, but it's hard to argue that units can't find a way to access the online tools.  

 

Councils can't be held accountable to get it entered exactly right as I've seen the hand-written forms many units hand in.  Hard to read.  Mistakes.  Name confusion between brothers and scouts that share similar names.  As long as the unit walks out with the right merchandise, the unit thinks the adv report is good.  My experience is that most hand-written advancement reports are moderate hard to vey hard to enter correctly.  Council staff and volunteers can do their best, but it's the units that own their own data and need to make sure it's right.  

 

KEY POINT - If units don't want to or can't use online advancement, then those units need to find their own process to regularly get their official records, audit them and then drive the corrections.  

 

District and council adv committees can push for improvements in processes and identify failure points, but they will never take on "handling" the individual advancement records and definitely not chasing each point of data entry confusion.  I've been on our district advancement committee for years and have sat in the council advancement committee.  It's just not in the scope of the district and council adv committee roles.

 

http://www.scouting....r/pdf/34739.pdf    Per official BSA training and documentation, the district advancement committee doesn't review individual submitted advancement forms.  Nor do they see those forms.  Those are kept at the council level.  Some councils have staff or volunteers enter the data.  Other councils as units to enter the data.  The districts can push back on the council to improve and districts can identify failure modes and suggest fixes.  Even the council advancement committee doesn't deal with individual paper.  They deal with requests for exceptions to normal requirements and generally monitor the advancement program as a whole.  

 

Agree, the units own the problem and need to correct it. And agree sometimes records are illegible, have the wrong names, etc. But when a unit hand delivers computer generated reports to insure that the council is getting the reports to be entered into SCOUTNET, then the problem is on the council, not the unit. 

 

Well said!

 

It's almost a full time job making sure our data isn't somehow screwed up by BSA. For Pete's sake, we submitted a change in unit leader form a few weeks back, and somehow Council anointed one of our leaders NOT involved in the leadership change as the new unit lead. It could not have been any clearer: Change Bob Smith from SM to ASM, make John Johnson SM from ASM.

 

Somehow Sandy Sanders was made unit lead and everyone else changed to ASMs. Then the TC Chair gets a note that Sandy is not trained for her position. No kidding!!!  :rolleyes:

 

Don't get me started on volunteer applications.  My wife filled out paperwork to work with the pack as a WDL, 3 times about 4 years ago. She was never registered. She filled it out in June, then again in September, then again December to get on the charter.  We thought surely her application and YPT card would FINALLY make it on the charter.  Didn't find out until April when the pack went to put her in for a Heroism Award that she was still not registered/ She said forget about registration as it is not worth the trouble.    


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#16 fred johnson

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 07:01 AM

... But when a unit hand delivers computer generated reports to insure that the council is getting the reports to be entered into SCOUTNET, ...

 

 

If the unit is delivering computer generated reports ... if people have a computer, they are online and should be doing Online Advancement to avoid the issue.  Handing over a paper sheet always introduces error.  Use online advancement and print the scout shop pick sheet from there.  Or upload your CSV file.  That's how you avoid the issue.  ... But if you are using a computer to generate the report, you don't have a tech issue.  


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#17 Eagle94-A1

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 06:48 AM

If the unit is delivering computer generated reports ... if people have a computer, they are online and should be doing Online Advancement to avoid the issue.  Handing over a paper sheet always introduces error.  Use online advancement and print the scout shop pick sheet from there.  Or upload your CSV file.  That's how you avoid the issue.  ... But if you are using a computer to generate the report, you don't have a tech issue.  

 

People may have a computer, but still not be able to do IA due to internet connectivity. My pack bought the downloadable version of PACKMASTER software. This is the one you download, and do not need internet to use. We got this version because of the known connectivity issues in the area. Supposedly it interfaces with IA. Every time I attempted to use that feature, after waiting extremely long periods of time, it would kick me off the system with a message stating it was taking too long. It would provide paper copies of the report,and that is what we used.

 

Thankfully I got off dial up when we got the chance. But there are still folks who are unable to get high speed internet service. Troop's old SM who did the advancement reports was one of those folks. Now I am the one who does it. And I am using IA. But I know of 3 units in the district that are not in high speed  areas. Thankfully the CM/ASM of 2 units works somewhere  that is OK with him doing IA.


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#18 mgood777

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 11:02 AM

I don't know if ILS-T is recorded anywhere. I know youth who've had it may wear the Trained patch under their badge of office. I don't want a bunch of people at NYLT who've never had any sort of orientation. I'm not going to kick 'em out, but I'd prefer that they've had some previous training.

I didn't mean to side-track the conversation. I was just using that as an example of things we're doing at district or council level because it's not getting done at the unit level. We're working to improve our units, but in the mean time, we have a handful of people who are trying to pick up the slack.
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#19 mgood777

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 11:08 AM

We have very few trained leaders. (Beyond the very basic training.) Our Council hasn't had NYLT in ten years. (Coming in August 2018.) No Wood Badge in almost that long. (Shooting for 2019.) Or Commissioners College in . . . maybe ever. (Scheduled in 2019, with the help of a couple of neighboring councils.)
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#20 fred johnson

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Posted 19 September 2017 - 11:18 AM

Of course ... IA should be drastically changing in the next year with the use of ScoutBook instead of the IA web site.  Look forward to seeing if it really happens.  


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