A new online Defense Department system aims to make life easier for dependent ID card holders -– and their sponsor.
The system, called RAPIDS, lets common access card holders who need to get and renew ID cards for their dependents entirely avoid that super fun, often lengthy, trip to the ID card office.
In the past sponsors had to either personally carry the ID card form, DD-1172-2, to the ID card office or send a signed, notarized copy to the office with the dependent. By using the RAPIDS system, however, they can, using their CAC card, simply digitally sign the form from anywhere in the world. The office can then pull it up online once the person needing the ID is there.
The idea, said Mary Dixon, the head of the Defense Manpower Data Center which oversees the system, is to make it easier for families going through military separation or with a kid at college, to renew, update or replace their ID cards.
Since we like it when DoD makes life easier and paperwork less complicated, we think systems like this are fantastic. However, like many things in the military, it seems that this one just creates another redundancy: everything you can do with this digitally signed document can also be done with the special power of attorney for IDs and DEERS that every military family is encouraged to have on hand during any military separation.
I’m sure there are limited circumstances in which a servicemember would not want his spouse to hold such a POA. But since that POA can only be used for ID and DEERS changes and not for anything financial or even housing related, it seems unlikely that a servicemember would want to keep his spouse from having access to it. And, since the RAPIDS digital signature move currently does not do everything the POA can, such as allowing a spouse to register a new baby in DEERS, doing that in lieu of a POA isn’t a good idea either.
Dixon did describe one circumstance in which the digitally signed DD-1172 would be truly helpful: updating or replacing an ID belonging to a dependent in college. That person, she said, is unlikely to have POA but IS likely to need an ID card. With the digitally signed DD-1172 on file, the student could go to his nearest ID card facility and take care of business instead of waiting for his next break for a family pilgrimage to the ID office.
That makes sense. Let’s be honest, I have lost my military ID at least twice. (I make myself feel better about this by saying "that last pictured sucked -- so glad to get a new one!" ... even though the photos get progressively worse over time. What's up with that?) Since I like to imagine that college students are even more careless than I am, needing an ID card replaced on the regular sounds like a pretty legitimate scenario.
The system is poised to offer additional tools in the future, Dixon said. For example, within the next year they hope to be testing a capability that will allow recruits to upload proof of dependents, such as marriage and birth certificates, into the system before they go to Basic instead of hauling them (and, let’s be honest, losing) them there. While at Basic they will be able to digitally sign the DD-1172, and their spouse and kids will be able to register in DEERS and get their ID cards before he even returns home as a brand spanking new member of the Armed Forces.
EDIT: To answer some questions in the comments regarding whether or not this applies to the Coast Guard -- yes, it does! Unlike most DoD programs, which do not apply to the Coast Guard, this one does IF you have a CAC card.
Eventually, Dixon said, she wants the system to not only notify users when their ID cards are about to expire (because we know finding out it expired last month while trying to get on base sucks) but also allows users to simply show up at the ID card office to pick-up the already printed ID card.
Dixon, however, noted that she is not sure when that "eventually" will be.
We can dream, right?