B3 Group Provides IT Solutions to National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCoS)

Background

The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCoS) was established as an independent Commission of the executive branch by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The NCoS conducts reviews of the military selective service process and considers methods to increase participation in military, national, and public service to address national security and other public service needs of the nation. There are 11 Commissioners: three appointed by the President of the United States; one each by the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders; one each by the Speaker of the House and the Minority Leader of the House; one each by the Chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services (SASC); and one each by the Chairman and ranking minority member of the House Committee on Armed Services (HASC).

The Commission is working its way across the country, holding town hall hearings to discuss important topics, such as the inclusion of women in the selective service. The Commission will take their findings and present recommendations to Congress, the President, and the wider national government.

In order to assist the NCoS Commissioners to encourage U.S. citizens to live lives of service, the B3 Group team provides a total IT solution for NCoS, including complete office automation capabilities in addition to website development and hosting. This includes setting up an IT infrastructure for the Commission to use as well as creating a website and social media outlets. The website informs users of the purpose of the Commission, upcoming town hall hearings with local citizens, minutes from past town halls, links to social media outlets, and all documentation provided by the Commission.

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Challenges

When the Commission began, it lacked a unified way for the Commissioners to communicate with each other and with the public. The Commissioners needed a singular domain to address concerns as a united front as well as to be transparent with the goals and actions of the Commissions. As soon as the Commission was announced, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests came pouring in to learn more about the Commission and what it was doing. This influx was hard to handle and address in the necessary timeframe legally required by FOIA. In order to manage these requests, the B3 Group team had to learn to incorporate multiple technologies (Drupal, Microsoft Azure, .Net Core, and SharePoint) into the website.

The B3 Group team is currently developing a method to incorporate the Commission’s social media outlets more directly into the website so that users can interact with the accounts from the website’s platform directly instead of using the existing links.

Solution

To address the need for the Commissioners to have a single platform for communication, the B3 Group team established an Office 365 domain, allowing all 11 Commissioners to obtain email addresses under the single domain of Inspire2Serve.gov. This domain also mirrors the Commission’s website, https://inspire2serve.gov/, creating uniformity and ease of access to the public.

For the website, the B3 Group team worked to integrate the Drupal website using Microsoft Azure as the host. Utilizing Azure instead of a web server allows for little to no maintenance for keeping the hosting up-to-date. Additionally, the B3 Group team connects the Commission’s SharePoint document library to the website using, Net Core, which allows the public to see all the documentation the Commission produces. This has drastically improved the number of FOIA requests and decreased the turn-around time on addressing the requests.

Results

With the Office 365 solution in place and the website active, the B3 Group team was able to assist in publishing the Commission’s Interim Report, which documents all the work the Commission has been doing since it formed in late 2017. The B3 Group team was instrumental in helping polish and publish this report, creating it in PDF and interactive HTML formats. The B3 Group team received the below praise from the customer on the report’s publication:

“Just want to thank the team for being so flexible over the last month or so, I know we had a lot of rapid-fire changes. Everything looks great!”

Some of the report’s highlights include an overview of the Commission’s goals, a review of the places and people visited in 2018, and the plan for implementing the ideas and data received from those visits. The full report can be read here.

The B3 Group team earned a perfect Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP) score, and the customer commented: “B3 Group has been a strong partner for NCoS and their work has played a critical part in our mission.”