Reporting advancement is a requirement of the Boy Scouts of America, and entering it directly into the BSA system through an internet portal is the most straightforward way to get it done.
Internet Advancement has been available for reporting ranks, advancement awards, merit badges, and many other awards available across BSA programs. The next generation of reporting software will also allow the reporting of individual requirements for ranks and awards, with the portal accessible through a computer, tablet, or smartphone. See topic 220.127.116.11, “The Next Generation in Electronic Advancement Reporting.”
As stated in “Reporting Advancement,” 18.104.22.168, all advancement must be reported to local councils.* This is important in keeping member records up to date, and it assures an accurate count in the Journey to Excellence performance recognition program. “Unit Advancement Responsibilities,” 22.214.171.124, suggests the unit advancement coordinator should use the BSA’s internet portal to accomplish the reporting. When this is done, it alleviates issues in documenting progress as Scouts submit Eagle applications or transfer from one unit to another within a council. Consistent and constant reporting also assures accurate records for use by commissioners, other district and council volunteers, and the National Council.
*An advancement report is not required to purchase adventure loops or pins. However, to ensure that each Cub Scout’s record is complete and accurate, all adventures— required and elective—should be posted in the BSA system using the internet portal for reporting advancement.
These are critical in evaluating unit health, adjusting service delivery, and reviewing changes in programs and requirements. It is recommended that units report advancement at least monthly with a final annual report each December. These reporting cycles are important because they support local and National Council data collection for the Journey to Excellence program as well as statistical analysis.
Benefits of Electronic Advancement Reporting
- Provides straightforward and direct method of reporting
- Eliminates issues with deciphering handwriting
- Helps in local council verification of Eagle Scout Rank Applications
- Records ranks, badges, and awards in accordance with BSA advancement rules
- Consolidates data files to reduce or eliminate record gaps when Scouts transfer units
- Supports national data analysis for advancement statistics
- Assures advancement is counted in the Journey to Excellence
With Internet Advancement, units select an advancement processor who is granted access with a council-provided unit ID. Because of documentation requirements, the Eagle Scout rank, and nominated recognitions such as meritorious action awards, are not entered electronically. Internet Advancement is accessed through the local council’s website or from my.scouting.org. When first-time unit processors enter, they are greeted by a welcome page with instructions and invited to log in and accept a confidentiality agreement. Once they have provided some registration information, they move to an overview page with additional instructions. Returning users skip these steps and go directly to selecting members for advancement.
In Internet Advancement, units may choose to upload advancement files from third-party software or to enter information manually. The best resource for working with Internet Advancement is “Getting the Most From Internet Advancement.” It can be found here under Advancement Educational Presentations. This PowerPoint presentation provides orientation for both unit and district volunteers on functionality and covers the operating systems and browsers with which Internet Advancement works or does not work.
Most councils have also established “help desk”–style assistance. Staff members there can answer questions, provide unit access IDs, monitor activity, change passwords, reset profiles and data, and create reports requested by council management for staff and volunteer use.
The next generation of advancement reporting software will allow the reporting of not only ranks, but also individual requirements for ranks, badges, and awards. Reporting is done through an internet portal to the BSA system. Over the last decade the portal has been provided through Internet Advancement. In 2015 the BSA acquired Scoutbook, a web application designed for mobile devices, which will aid in advancement recording, reporting, and recognition and help the BSA connect with members when, where, and how they prefer. Keep an eye on the National Advancement Program Team’s Twitter feed, @AdvBSA, and also on Advancement News for more information.
Scoutbook Lite is a web-based application intended to serve as the portal for unit leaders to update unit-related information online. It supports functionality to document and report advancement and awards earned by youth. This functionality was previously only available to unit leaders through Internet Advancement or Scoutbook. Internet Advancement will be discontinued sometime after the release of Scoutbook Lite; after that time, users who try to access Internet Advancement will be redirected to Scoutbook Lite.
Board of Review Signatures. Because entering rank advancement into Internet Advancement, either directly or via Scoutbook, and printing the system-generated Unit Advancement Reports typically occur sometime after boards of review are held, obtaining signatures on the report may not be practical. Therefore, after a board of review is held, it is permissible for board members to sign a completed copy of the Unit Advancement Report found at www.scouting.org/forms. This signed report may then be attached to the electronically generated report and submitted to the local council.
Scout Transfers. BSA member identification numbers are unique only within each local council. They are not nationally universal, although it is likely they will become so as the National Council updates its computer systems in the future. Thus, advancement data associated with a Scout’s ID number cannot be accessed by any other councils. For this reason, if a Scout moves to a different council, the Scout must obtain either a printout of his or her advancement from the previous council or a copy of the Internet Advancement Member Summary Report from his or her previous unit(s). Either of these should be attached to the application used to transfer the youth’s membership to the new council and unit. It is important to enter the Scout’s name and BSA identification number on the youth application exactly as they appear in the records of the former council. Nicknames and other differences will only delay the transfer process.
Dual Registration. If a Scout has multiple registrations with units in different councils, advancement records should be maintained in only one of the units. As the Scout passes requirements in any other unit, the information should be relayed to the primary unit so that only one advancement record is maintained. It is not possible to electronically consolidate data across different units in different councils. If advancement records are maintained in multiple units, then cooperation between the units will be required in order to generate the reports necessary to report and obtain the awards.