Changes to ATF eForms are Underway – Now to be Called FEAM

eForms Changing to Firearms and Explosives Application Module (FEAM)
Liason says system wont be ready in time to demo at SHOT Show

ATFeformsAs a BATFE eForms valued custome(what, you don’t have your frequent buyer’s card?), we received an update email today to notify us about some changes that are coming in the system.

The first change that you will notice is the name.  No longer will it be called “eForms.”  Rather, it will go by the new moniker of “Firearms and Explosives Application Module (FEAM)”.  This change, the BATFE says, is to emphasis that FEAM is more than a “fillable form”.

A Business Process Module

The advisory maintains that, instead of just being a form, the system is a “business process module” and gives a list of minimum the functionalities, listed below.  Although it doesn’t explicitly say as much, reading between the lines might lead one to believe that the changes are, in part, to pave the way to accommodate (or not) the requirements of ATF 41F (nee 41P).  It also sounds like they may be scrapping all of that hard work that they had been promising was underway toward the reboot of the eForms Form 4 functionality.

  • Auto assignmentAll applications will be immediately upon submission assigned to an examiner for processing.  I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  It seems like it could slow down some applications if it immediately goes onto the desk of a slow or grumpy examiner versus working its way through the queue to land on the first available desk.
  • Auto approvalSome forms, like the ATF Forms 2 and 3, if they meet certain pre-determined criteria will be automatically approved by the FEAM system upon submission.  This generally sounds like a good thing, as it could cut down on the amount of time buyers spend waiting for custom-built NFA items to hit the registry from the manufacturer or for the transfer to their local dealer to go through so they can start waiting on their Form 4.
  • Internal controls and performance measurement reportingATF has a full audit trail of every application received with date and time stamps for every step in the process. Digital signatures can be used to lock down portions of the form to ensure the security of the data and the authenticity of the submitter.
  • Improved business processes with automatic Records Management & Retention, as mandated by the Office of Management and Budget.
  • Electronic Signature (for submitter and ATF personnel)provides enhanced authentication, validation and improves processing and approval.  From an individual viewpoint, this doesn’t sound like that meaningful of a change; particularly barring the absence of a mechanism for users to submit fingerprints and photos – which will soon be required for all non-SOT users.
  • Enhance Industry satisfaction: user-friendly interaction.  Aww, look… the BATFE is humble.  To be honest, the eForms interface couldn’t have got much worse.  It looked like a hello world website from the ’90s.  But it suited its purpose as an online fillable form.
  • FEAM provides the Application Program Interface (APIs) needed to update the existing ATF back end databases, to allow for the batch submission of multiple forms using one computer session.  Yahtzee.  Bulk forms.
  • Improves efficiency for the Enforcement Programs and Services staffForms can be automatically routed, evaluated and tracked so that final determinations can be made in a consistent and expeditious manner.

BATFE-MolonLabe-SHOTThe advisory also indicates that they had anticipated being able to demo FEAM v1.0 at SHOT Show this upcoming week, but – shockingly – they didn’t have it done in time.  Drats!  We had hoped to see something good when we stopped by their show booth this year.

We had hoped to be able to present the first iteration of FEAM at the 2016 SHOT Show. ATF performed an assessment of what was contracted to be developed for FEAM and what the contractor planned to deliver. At the end of the assessment, all parties involved felt that the product outlined in the current contract did not fully provide all the functionality that we expected, or that the industry requested. For these reasons we decided that rather than to continue on the current course, we would take the steps listed below to ensure that FEAM is a worthwhile investment for both the industry and ATF:

  1. Curtail the current development effort.
  2. Determine what is needed to sustain the existing eForms system, until the full requirements for FEAM can be determined and developed.
  3. Make the necessary changes to eForms to stabilize the infrastructure with the ever-increasing user population.
  4. Determine if we can re-introduce the Form 3 to the current eForms, through load testing and other system validations.
  5. Perform an assessment of the ATF and industry requirements for FEAM.
  6. Secure required funding for a new FEAM initiative, based on the revised requirements.
  7. Restart the FEAM initiative, to include industry participation during the requirements gathering and testing processes.

We look at this as only a minor delay. It is our intention to use this delay to acquire the tools and resources necessary to develop a product that will provide more functionality and a stable workflow process and infrastructure. All the work previously done on FEAM is not lost. It will be the foundation for the work that is yet to come.

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