Some military family members and retirees can renew their military ID cards online, thereby keeping ID card office visits under 10 minutes, thanks to a pilot program running on a handful of Air Force bases worldwide.
The program, started early this year, lets users do the bulk of the ID card renewal process, including submitting paperwork, via a secure online portal. Once finished, users can walk into the office and pick up their new card within a few days.
The service is currently available at 10 base locations.Those bases are Patrick Air Force Base and MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska; Travis Air Force Base, California; Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington; Texas Joint Base San Antonio locations Fort Sam Houston, Lackland and Randolph; Ramstein Air Base, Germany; and Kadena Air Base, Japan.
The program does not support Common Access Card renewals or ID card applications for new military dependents.
Although the program is administered by the Air Force, military dependents and retirees affiliated with any branch can use at the participating bases.
About 4,360 ID cards have been renewed online since the process started, Air Force officials said.
The program began after officials at Patrick Air Force Base studied their 2017 ID card office wait times, officials said.
"Under the previous process, some customers were waiting up to 38 days for an appointment to renew their expiring ID cards or waiting long hours at the Force Support Squadron Customer Service Office," Erika Yepsen, an Air Force spokesperson, said in a statement. "With the new online process at Patrick, the wait is now three days or less -- and some customers may receive same-day service depending on the workload at the FSS Customer Service Office."
As part of the rollout, some participating bases have done away entirely with walk-in ID card services. Although they still allow emergency help for lost or stolen ID cards, all other renewals at Travis Air Force Base, for example, are appointment-only. That means instead of waiting hours to be helped, most customers can plan ahead and be in and out in 10 minutes, officials there said in a release early this year.
But the new system has not been without a few bumps. For example, officials had to figure out how to help users who may not have a home computer, a problem addressed by installing a self-service kiosk at the ID card office. Several locations also had to upgrade their websites to support the Safe Access File Exchange system, which ensures documents are transferred securely.
While there is currently no timeline for rollout across the Defense Department, Yepsen said officials with the Defense Manpower Data Center are studying how they could roll it out to the system's 1,700 ID card locations.
-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.