On August 12, this district commissioner made the first “detailed entry” in the BSA’s new, next-generation Commissioner Tools database. The rollout of this system marks an achieved (and long-awaited) milestone for the BSA commissioner service. It is envisioned that this system will substantially improve how some aspects of unit service are tracked, delivered, and referred for further action (i.e., help) by commissioners. The Commissioner Tools blends membership, training, unit assessment, and roundtable tracking functions in a faster, more reliable format to provide a system that can help effect an enhanced delivery of unit service among commissioners. Since live entry in the system came online in early August, it has not been without its share of technical challenges and glitches. However, the system has continued to undergo a series of almost daily refinements for appearance, user friendliness, and system operation to deliver a much more useful experience when the system rolls out nationally later this year.
If you have heard that the new Commissioner Tools is simply a replacement for the Unit Visit Tracking System (UVTS), then you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that it is much, much more than simply an “in-kind” replacement database. This new system merges several essential Scouting databases to provide a commissioner with an almost “real-time” snapshot of a unit’s leader training status, roster composition, and Key 3 contact information. The “detailed unit assessment” feature leads the commissioner through a series of specific questions related to JTE performance criteria and unit health factors to accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses in any unit’s operation (including training, program, finances, and leadership). The Commissioner Tools also includes the ability to electronically collaborate (via an email link) with the unit Key 3 to provide direct unit input into the assessment questionnaire and receive unit feedback that can be factored in with the commissioner’s assessment responses. Plenty of space is provided for custom responses for both the commissioner and unit evaluators. There is no longer a reason for a commissioner to not have the most accurate information available to use in the assessment of a unit’s health.
Several reports are provided that offer the ability to track the distribution of unit contacts, inventory of priority unit needs, and inventory of potential commissioner recruits among others. Another welcome function is the roundtable meeting report that provides a method to input highly detailed, specific information on unit attendance and roundtable programming.
If you are the type of commissioner who is uneasy with new technology or the use of electronically based applications, or you just prefer to do things on paper, I strongly urge you to spend some time getting to know how to use this system. The Commissioner Tools is a vast improvement over earlier databases, and it has the potential to offer real utility and efficiency to commissioners in the performance of our job. Remember, if it wasn’t reported, it didn’t happen.