WASHINGTON, D.C. — When Fort Carson, Colo., reduced its identification card waiting time from 45 minutes to five minutes, it was a mile marker in the Defense Department’s goal to cut the waiting process, a DOD official said.
Carson won a DOD award for its numerous successes in the ID card program, known as RAPIDS, short for Real-time Automated Personnel Identification System, said Mary Dixon, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center.
The center is making the process easier for service members, veterans, families, civilians and contractors to get their identification cards through RAPIDS, which is a self-service portal on milConnect.
RAPIDS enables users with a DOD common access card, or CAC, to apply for ID cards or update dependents’ statuses online, she said.
The RAPIDS portal also explains the paperwork that’s needed to obtain a card. Once the information is in the system, the ID cards are available for pickup from a RAPIDS site, which are DOD-wide. A RAPIDS site locator is on milConnect.
”The whole idea of self-service is good for people who are deployed [and their] family members are back at home,” Dixon said.
In addition to the self-service portal that speeds up the ID card process, other initiatives are in the works, Dixon said.
Civilians and military members can go to RAPIDS to view their records, and military families’ information. If anything is incorrect, such as an address, Dixon said, employees should first notify their personnel office of the error. Personnel offices forward the changed information to the center to correct it.
An appointment system will help move the process along, Dixon said. Fort Carson’s significant waiting period reduction was partly due to people making appointments, she added.
“We all should learn from that,” Dixon said. “Setting an appointment saves time for you and the personnel doing the processing.” She noted that about 300 sites process cards by appointments.
And, CAC holders will find that RAPIDS “prepopulates” their information onto a form, eliminating the need for employees to fill them out. The CAC also can be used for digital signatures.
Dixon said she also expects RAPIDS to create a process that saves money as well as time, but figures are not yet available.
Future plans will extend the system to new military recruits, she said, in what will be a candidate database. As part of their initial processing, recruits’ documentation can be scanned into the RAPIDS system so a spouse can access the portal once their military sponsor’s active duty begins.
Dixon said the expedited ID card process is coming together in bits and pieces, but she hopes that some day, a kiosk will handle the entire process.
“But that’s a while away,” she noted.
Dixon said RAPIDS is expected to serve about 3.7 million service members, 750,000 DOD civilians and 500,000 contractors. She added that the total number of service members includes the active-duty military service branches, reserves, the Coast Guard, and employees of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.