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Living Pattern Survey, for the Dept.of Defense, Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee

Project Description
Formed by the U.S. Department of Defense, the Per Diem, Travel and Transportation Allowance Committee (PDTATAC) ensures uniform travel and transportation regulations for members of the seven Uniformed Services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Public Health Service).

Among the Travel Regulations and Allowance Programs run by PDTATAC, they run the Overseas Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) for the seven Uniformed Services. The Overseas COLA compensates for excess costs of non-housing expenses incurred in areas that exceed costs of the average Continental United States Uniformed Service Members. This Allowance program impacts 280,000 members at approximately 600 locations overseas, including Alaska and Hawaii. Current cost is approximately $1 billion annually.

To coordinate the Overseas COLA, PDTATAC requires a Living Pattern Survey (LPS) and a Retail Price Schedule (RPS). These questionnaires require extensive factual content. In paper format, processing these questionnaires was quite inefficient and slow. The PDTATAC desired to replace this inefficient paper system with a browser-based, electronic integrated solution.

LPS: Once every three years, the Living Pattern Survey (LPS) samples Uniformed Service Members assigned to each overseas location. The LPS queries respondents for their off-base purchasing behavior of goods and services. Specifically, the LPS investigates which stores respondents use, the percentage purchased from each source of supply, and the relative use for the goods and services.

The specifications for the LPS software include:
  • Each location must have the ability to customize the LPS with local retail outlets.
  • Each Survey must allow users to add in additional outlets than the retail outlets listed.
  • Each location must have the ability to distribute the survey through the Internet, email, diskette, or LAN in the same browser-based display format. All collected data must be able to be appended to a project database.
  • Each location must have the ability to produce standard reports and query sub-populations.
  • Each location must have the ability to send data easily back to PDTATAC headquarters in a unified manner.
RPS: Based on the data collected from the LPS, the RPS is collected annually to determine actual costs of goods and services at each overseas location.

The specifications for the RPS software include:
  • Data entry for price, unit, quantity, and description fields for each retail item of goods and services.
  • Intuitive navigation between retail items and each category.
  • Distribution of the forms through the Internet, email, or diskette.
  • Each location must have the ability to send data easily back to PDTATAC headquarters in a unified manner.
Raosoft Inc. Software Solution
Based on the paper data collection form, a questionnaire shell was created with hooks into an integrated program called the LPS Creator. Click here to view a template of this form. This program was designed for distribution to each overseas location and to coordinate sending data to headquarters. LPS Creator contains the following components and is easy enough for novices to use:
  • Create Survey: Local Points of Contact add/modify local content to questionnaire shells.
  • Create Distribution Files: Create questionnaire browser-based distribution files in the following format:
    1. Windows .exe files
    2. Windows web server format (.cgi)
  • Append Data: Combine collected data from the various distribution methods. Included were checks and balances to prevent different localities' data and previous years' data from being appended to the current project database. In addition, a spell checker was implemented to correct for mis-spelling of retail outlet names.
  • Create Reports: Create Standard Reports with the ability to query sub-populations based on Service and or Rank. Click here to view a sample report.
  • Send Data: Zips the local database and sends it to PDTATAC headquarters over HTTP.
  • An extensive HELP file.
The RPS was created with InterForm based on the paper form. A .cgi file and .exe were created and distributed to PDTATAC headquarters. Procedures were developed iteratively for implementing the RPS among the many localities.

Benefits to Improve Productivity
With LPS Creator, PDTATAC now has a single browser-based application to distribute to all overseas Uniformed Services locations. Each locality can input local retail outlets, distribute forms and combine the data when collected. Distribution of questionnaires can be through the web, by email, by diskette, or over the LAN. They can produce standard reports, query sub-populations to report on, and send raw data to headquarters upon completion of the survey.

With the RPS, PDTATAC questionnaire a single form to put on their server to collect data from all overseas Uniformed Services locations. In addition, for locations without Internet Access, they can distribute the same questionnaire via email or floppy disk.

Raosoft, Inc.
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