National's Computer Program
Dewitte A. Baisch (dbaisch@DATASYS.NET)
Wed, 24 Sep 1997 00:13:53 -0400
Howdy, Scouts-L gang!
I've become aware of a problem that began as a query for a transcript
from a council for a youth who has moved to our area and joined our
troop. The query became head-scratching, then confusion, then concern,
and before it advances to alarm, I thought I'd throw it out to the group
and see if any other Scouters have noticed a similar problem and ask
what can be done about it.
The transcript for one of our new Scouts (he's First Class) came in to
the Scout Office and I went by to look at it (their copier is down so
they wanted to hang on to the fax from the other council until they
could make a copy for their records. No problem.). The registrar showed
me a discrepancy on the transcript. The transcript shows that the Scout
made Tenderfoot on such-and-such date and then First Class on
another-date. There was no mention of him ever making Second Class. It
also showed the Scout earning his Arrow of Light AFTER he made
I brought this up with our advancement chairman (-woman? -person?) who
went the extra step and began looking at all records for our Scouts. She
is starting with our Life Scouts (no Eagles active at the moment, but
we're gonna have some soon!) and working backwards through the troop to
ensure valid information is available both in our troop software and the
council's computer program. She has uncovered more computer
discrepancies (national's programs, not ours. We use Troopmaster, and so
far, it keeps us very honest.) We've got a Scout who (our advancement
chair used to be the Cubmaster for our feeder troop) made Wolf and
Webelos on the same date. We have another Scout recorded as making
Second Class just two weeks after joining our troop (he is still just
Scout as far as we are concerned). And there are other differences that
make me cringe at the thought that THIS is a NATIONAL database that
allows such discrepancies and THIS is the database that the boys have to
rely on as a record of their Scouting progression toward Eagle.
How many Scouts have had their Eagle rank held up until rank and merit
badge cards and their Scout Handbook had been verified because the
information allowed in the national computer database was questionable?
Who wrote the program that national uses? I say national and naturally
assume that all councils are connected to BSA HQ through the same
program. Can a Scout be recorded as making Tenderfoot on one date and
also be credited with having attended Woodbadge a week later? Are there
22 and 23 year-old Explorer Scouts on the active roles because the
national program allows such things? Have you ever noticed that there is
NO entry for when a kid joins Boy Scouts OR earns the rank of Scout (not
always the same date!)? There are shareware programs that troops use to
keep track of their Scouts that have better checks and balances than the
national computer program.
I haven't researched very thoroughly, but with what I have seen so far,
I'm willing to bet that the national software will accept the awarding
of a merit badge to a Scout for a badge that requires another merit
badge first, without the Scout getting the other merit badge (i.e.,
Lifesaving - earn the Swimming Merit badge first). There are, what,
323+/- councils all using the same computer program to input data on
each Scout (and Scouter [how many Scouts named "Such-and-such Junior"
have been awarded the Silver Beaver Award instead of "Such-and-such
Senior"?]) Hey, how many Tiger Cubs have their Arrow of Light because
their brother has a similar name, the registrar didn't catch it, and the
software allowed it?
How can this be fixed? Is there an office, or person to contact, who is
in charge of the software national and the councils use? Is the problem
even greater in scope than what I have mentioned so far? (Can a troop,
for a laugh, invent a Scout and have him earn all of his ranks in
reverse order; make Eagle then progress down to Scout, and will the
national program accept it?) From the errors I've seen, and they are
plenty, the national software needs a serious overhaul. It is a problem
of huge magnitude and needs to be addressed NOW, not next week, next
month, or next year!
Fellow Scouters, WE'VE got a problem!
Yours in Scouting,
Dewitte A. Baisch (Sandy)
Scoutmaster, Troop 411, Circle 7 District, Alapaha Area Council, Georgia
"..if it ain't raining, we ain't camping!"
Visit Troop 411 at: http://www.datasys.net/~dbaisch/troop411/index.htm
email@example.com (..and one of them good ol' bobwhites)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City