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Property Management for Company Commanders

You have been a company commander and your unitís primary hand receipt holder for 14 months. The unit supply sergeant recently moved to a new assignment, and the transition of the incoming supply sergeant was smooth and simple. So you thought! In conducting a 10-percent cyclic inventory, you discover that a Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) is missing. And thatís a sensitive item!

The above scenario could have been avoided by using the right property management “tactics.” Army Regulation (AR) 710–2, Supply Policy Below the National Level, explains the different types of inventories and mandates the timeframes during which these inventories should be conducted and by whom. Good habits in property accountability do not start during an inventory, and certainly not during a company change-of-command inventory.

Building a Resource Management Team

A key element of unit readiness is an effective, skilled resource management team of sub-hand receipt holders. This team can ensure that your unit’s end items and all of their associated components are fully operational. Team building starts with good, solid communication of what you, the primary hand receipt holder, expect from the team members. Most important, establishing an effective property management system will help set the conditions for excellence in accountability by allowing your sub-hand receipt holders to develop programs that will meet the objective of the system you have put in place. These programs will help inspire them to take a personal interest in ensuring that equipment will be available and operational when needed.

Sub-hand receipt holder counseling should include proper management of critical items. Discussion also should include the five levels of property responsibility found in AR 735–5, Policies and Procedures for Property Accountability, the level of responsibility for which they are charged, and how each level affects you as the primary hand receipt holder. The five levels are

  1. Command. A commander is responsible for all property within his command.
  2. Supervisory. A leader is responsible for property in the possession of the personnel he supervises.
  3. Direct. The accountable officer is responsible for property not issued on hand receipt, and the primary hand receipt holder is responsible for property accepted on hand receipt from the accountable officer.
  4. Custodial. The supply sergeant, supply custodian, supply clerk, or warehouse person is responsible for property in storage awaiting issue or turn-in.
  5. Personal. Each person is responsible for exercising reasonable and prudent actions to properly use, care for, safeguard, and dispose of all Government property issued for, acquired for, or converted to his exclusive use, with or without receipt.

Unit Supply Standing Operating Procedure

A unit supply standing operating procedure (SOP) should be built around the provisions of AR 190–11, Physical Security of Arms, Ammunition and Explosives; AR 710–2; AR 735–5; Department of the Army (DA) Pamphlet 710–2–1, Using Unit Supply System (Manual Procedures); command policy letters; and local SOPs. AR 710–2 governs the processes that should be used in daily supply activities, and DA Pamphlet 710–2–1 tells you how to conduct these processes by providing examples of applicable forms.

Every SOP is different, but some points to consider when developing the inventory annex of your SOP are as follows—

  • Ten-percent item inventories must be conducted by you, the primary hand receipt holder; only extreme cases warrant deviations. Your 10-percent item inventory should culminate in reconciliation with the supply sergeant of all shortages found and a review of the current status of last month’s inventory. This will help you stay abreast of your unit’s readiness status. All items not found will be listed on a shortage annex and initialed by you or your property book officer (PBO). A Department of Defense Form 362, Statement of Charges/Cash Collection, is a recommended method of obtaining relief from responsibility for items listed on the shortage annex.
  • A memorandum for record listing line item numbers (LINs) for the upcoming month’s inventory should be included in the company training meeting agenda and provided as a handout during the training meetings.
  • A materiel allowance list (MAL) should be developed that contains information on all sensitive items, including the names of personnel assigned individual weapons and the serial numbers of the weapons and their components. It also may be helpful to develop a field MAL with an additional “signed out” column for quick reference in a field environment. Thousands of troops depend on the availability of sensitive items. Failure to account properly for these assets can have a huge impact on mission accomplishment.
  • Consider adding information to your SOP on where Soldiers should stow their weapons when they return to garrison after a field training exercise.
  • Management of critical items should also be detailed in your SOP. An example of a critical item is the fuel system supply point (FSSP), which is used to establish a refueling station for ground vehicles. The FSSP is a critical asset that is not issued as a complete system. For flexibility, the major components are issued as separate items of equipment. An FSSP can have an enormous impact on mission accomplisment, so it is important to inventory this item more often than is dictated by AR 710–2 or other time-driven inventories, such as the PBO-directed 10-percent cyclic survey or sensitive item inventory.

Planning the Change-of-Command Inventory

Planning is the most overlooked phase of a change-of-command inventory. Its purpose is to familiarize the incoming commander with the importance and scope of the upcoming inventory and establish a realistic and acceptable inventory schedule. Planning also provides an opportunity for you to gather essential supplies and references for the inventory. Diligence and hard work during this phase will pay off during the actual inventory.

Planning should begin as soon as you know that you will be assuming command and the concurrent responsibility of primary hand receipt holder. The first task is to schedule an office call with the battalion commander so that he can offer direction and advice. Ask the unit supply sergeant to accompany you. There is no such thing as “officer business” when it comes to property accountability. All military and civilian personnel are stewards of Government property. Witnesses at any level to bad property management can bring attention to an issue.

Also, take the unit supply sergeant with you when you make your initial visit to the PBO, and require that he be on hand throughout the inventory. The PBO can provide you a copy of the unit’s hand receipt, due-in listing, and nonexpendable item shortage annexes. Your copy of the hand receipt should reflect all transactions affecting the primary hand receipt for the current month and transactions not affecting on-hand balances. The PBO should be able to provide guidance on current lateral transfer directives; local policies, including those set by major Army commands; the status of end items that are due in, including all components; the availability of publications needed to conduct an inventory; the estimated duration of the inventory; and the responsibilities of the current primary hand receipt holders.

Next, visit the outgoing company commander and discuss the change-of-command inventory schedule in detail. The schedule should allow time to inventory all unit property thoroughly and complete administrative actions required by regulations. The outgoing commander should allow time for you to visit the unit supply room and review all sub-hand receipts.

Develop an accountability matrix for property listed on the unit’s table of distribution and allowances (TDA), modification table of organization and equipment (MTOE), or joint table of allowances (JTA). This matrix can serve as a managerial tool to facilitate the inventory and reconcile any discrepancies. Pay special attention to items not
sub-hand-receipted down to user level.

Prepare a list of all technical manuals, supply catalogs, and supply and technical bulletins pertaining to the equipment on your hand receipt, including their latest publication date. Ask your unit supply sergeant to develop a publications library of all pertinent publications. These publications will provide you with a pictorial description of your equipment and indicate whether or not it has components. DA Pamphlet 25–30, The Army Publishing Program, provides a listing of publications. They are revised often, so ask the unit supply sergeant to maintain an up-to-date set so that you can track changes that affect your equipment and its associated components. Each sub-hand receipt holder also should have a copy of publications pertaining to property for which he has responsibility.

Conducting the Inventory

The outgoing commander typically prepares an inventory plan well in advance of his leaving. The plan addresses major requirements of the inventory, lists the schedule to be followed, and incorporates this plan into a coordinated unit training schedule.

An incoming company commander usually has 30 days to inventory all property before the formal change of command and transfer of the unit hand receipt. The unit supply sergeant should escort you and the outgoing commander during the inventory. It is helpful to have communications and maintenance subject-matter experts available to answer questions about sets, kits, and outfits and components that can sometimes be complex. The outgoing commander should make sure that sub-hand receipt holders are prepared for the inventory. One way of doing this is by holding a pre-inventory briefing with key personnel the day before the inventory begins.

As the incoming commander, you should inventory all equipment by LIN, using all applicable publications to identify each type of assigned equipment. Be sure to count the items and verify serial numbers; do not simply rely on the hand receipts. If shortages are discovered, give sub-hand receipt holders time to search for the items before compiling a list of items that cannot be found. Remember: You have not assumed responsibility as the primary hand receipt holder yet and cannot process forms of relief from responsibility, so keep your battalion commander and S–4 informed and use AR 735–5 as a reference. Make sure you record shortages on the appropriate annex and post them to your matrix.

Once the inventory is underway, it is good practice to have the unit supply sergeant conduct administrative actions, such as updating sub-hand receipts and generating forms of relief from responsibility as required. Keep track of the administrative actions that should be conducted and coordinate with the unit supply sergeant to make sure all actions are completed before the next day’s inventory proceedings.

Develop an inventory plan that suits you and your unit. Remember that all property acquired by the Army must be accounted for as prescribed by applicable Army regulations. You should take this inventory seriously; otherwise, your accountability program will be doomed before you even assume command.

Unit Supply Sergeant Audit

AR 710–2 does not discuss the unit supply sergeant’s manual audit of the hand receipt. A forward-thinking company commander will ensure that he and the unit supply sergeant schedule a manual audit on the unit’s approved annual training schedule. This manual audit serves as a managerial tool and provides a checks and balances system that can be used to validate that all unit property is accounted for when your unit supply sergeant is reassigned out of your unit. The audit also alerts the incoming unit supply sergeant of property that is on loan and accounted for as prescribed by regulation. Before the outgoing unit supply sergeant departs, he and the incoming unit supply sergeant should brief you after the manual audit is complete so that there will be no surprises down the road.

To maintain the integrity of the manual audit, certain reports must be obtained in advance. The Personnel Asset Inventory Report and manning roster, which can be obtained from the battalion personnel administration center, verify that individuals assigned as sub-hand receipt holders are actually assigned to your unit. A copy of the current primary hand receipt should be obtained from the installation PBO before the audit. It is important to remember that some sytems have many components that are listed as separate LINs in the property book. For example, a 30,000-watt generator is used to operate a reverse osmosis water purification unit, but it is has a separate LIN. Also review the due-in column of the primary hand receipt to confirm whether items received have been recorded correctly. Failure to confirm that items listed in the “due-in” column have been received could result in the ordering of unneeded equipment costing thousands of dollars.

Property Management Advice

The lists that follow contain guidance that is not necessarily grounded in doctrine. Rather, it is derived from my personal property management experience. It is shared in an effort to help company commanders and their supply sergeants establish and maintain a successful property accountability program.

First, I offer this list of “do’s”—

  1. Ensure that copies of assumption of appointment orders and updated signature cards are forwarded to supporting agencies and the PBO.
  2. Before signing the hand receipt you receive from the PBO, verify that it is an updated copy and that all changes have been posted. Use a memorandum for record to document any discrepancies found.
  3. Ensure that the outgoing commander inventories unit property assets with you. In the event that the outgoing commander is not available, ask that a disinterested officer be appointed on orders to represent him.
  4. Whenever feasible, inventory like items together. (This works well with vehicles.) Ask the sub-hand receipt holders to be present when inventorying property on sub-hand receipts and component hand receipts. Once sub-hand receipts have been inventoried and manually posted to the hand receipt listing, have sub-hand receipt holders update their hand receipts.
  5. Require the supply sergeant to obtain copies of all outstanding temporary hand receipts for property loaned to other units. Inventory property and renew the hand receipts.
  6. Compare the authorizations on your primary hand receipt with the current TDA, MTOE, or JTA, as applicable.
  7. Submit a DA Form 1687, Notice of Delegation of Authority-Receipt for Supplies, to the PBO to designate individuals who are authorized to receive and turn in supplies on your behalf.
  8. Verify the validity of pending DA Forms 5504, Maintenance Requests, with pertinent maintenance support elements and DA Form 2404 or DA Form 5988–E, Equipment Maintenance and Inspection Worksheet.
  9. Verify all outstanding administrative adjustment reports and incomplete equipment requests, receipts, and turn-ins. Question and follow up on any documents that are older than the date of the hand receipt. Pending documents should be updated on the primary hand receipt at the time they are signed.
  10. Brief all sub-hand receipt holders on the importance of accurate accountability, the severe implications of supply discipline infractions, and the layout of their equipment for inventory purposes. Ensure that vehicles have all vehicle operator maintenance equipment and all basic issue items displayed. The tool sets, kits, and outfits should be open and complete when the items are inventoried.
  11. If, during the inventory, it is determined that equipment has been lost, damaged, or destroyed by other than normal wear and tear, take action immediately to determine the facts leading to the loss and the amount of loss to the Government. Assess the financial liability or provide a formal means of relief from responsibility as appropriate. When assessing damages to property, seek assistance from your S–4 and have a technical inspector assist in determining the proper condition code.
  12. Ensure that any unrecorded excess equipment found during the inventory is secured and reported to the PBO for disposition and accountability.
  13. Ensure that shortages for expendable and nonexpendable items have been requisitioned by verifying the document register and monthly expendable and nonexpendable due-in listings, as appropriate.
  14. Make sure that all nonexpendable component and end item shortages discovered during the inventory are processed in accordance with AR 735–5. Relief-from-responsibility forms should be processed for any unresolved discrepancies found when comparing your copy of the hand receipt to that of the PBO. The reason for the discrepancy dictates what form is used. One form used for this is a Department of Defense (DD) Form 200, Financial Liability Investigation of Property Loss. All property loss forms must be initiated before you sign the hand receipt.

My experience has likewise led me to compile this list of “don’ts”—

  1. Never delegate a physical inventory. This is your personal responsibility as company commander. Remembering this one rule could prevent you from being subjected to financial liability.
  2. Do not extend the inventory past the allotted time unless an extension is obtained from the PBO. Before submitting a request for an extension, make sure it has been cleared through the battalion executive officer and the battalion commander. The executive officer usually will know if you can get approval. However, try to prevent situations from developing that would warrant an extension.
  3. Do not delay initiating an investigation of financial liability for property when loss, damage, or destruction is evident.
  4. Do not issue property unless it is authorized by MTOE, TDA, JTA, supply bulletin, technical manual, or other official authorization.
  5. Do not allow temporary hand receipts for loaned property to expire. Temporary hand receipts expire after 30 days. It is a good idea to record the name of the individual signing for the property, his place of work, his phone number, and the date the property is to be returned so you can follow up.

Every unit is different. The tactics that I have shared above are intended to serve only as a guide to establishing solid property accountability in your unit. I hope that, by applying some of these tactics, you will be a successful property manager and leave your successor with a unit that has all of its property on hand and ready to perform the functions for which it was intended.

Captain Jaren P. Powell is a training developer in the Training Directorate of the Army Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Virginia. He has a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Fayetteville State University and is a graduate of the Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course, the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course, the Quartermaster Officer Advanced Course, the Standard Property Book System-Redesign Course, the Supply Management Officers Course, and the Army Combined Arms and Services Staff School.