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eForms 2.0 Industry Roundtable

This morning, the ATF held their first industry roundtable to discuss plans for eForms 2.0 – which is refreshing since there hasn’t been any reliable information released since eForms first went down in April.

Personally, I think the event was useful, and here are the biggest takeaways:

NFA Branch Surge

Since eForms went down, the NFA Branch has worked to keep wait times down by throwing more people at the pending applications.  This isn’t a long term solution, and they appear to realize that; but, it is definitely helping in the short term.

Some of the statistics they threw out were:

  1. Over the last month, the NFA Branch has been able to drop one month from the wait times – and our statistics back this up.  They also said that they have dropped from a peak of 86,000 unprocessed applications in February to just over 50,000 today; so they’re heading in the right direction in spite of an uptick in submissions.
  2. Last year, as most people know, there were only 9 NFA Branch examiners who were handling every single submission.  As of today there are 15, with another 11 in the pipeline – which will bring the total up to 26 examiners.
  3. The goal, with both paper and eForm 4 submissions is to get the wait times under 6 months and keep them there.  It actually sounded like they may have an internal goal to keep it closer to 3 months.
  4. The ATF is also training field agents to help with the NFA approval process while they work through the existing backlog – which shows they are serious about bringing wait times down.

Even though this ‘surge’ is just a stop-gap measure, the major upside is that the new examiners will still be around when eForms 2.0 finally comes online – so we could see some serious drops in wait times over the next year or two.

eForms 2.0

200px-US-AlcoholTobaccoFirearmsAndExplosives-Seal.svg_-150x150Although the NFA Branch is throwing serious resources at pulling wait times down for paper forms – it sounds like any rumors of Form 4 submissions coming back to eForms in the coming weeks aren’t correct.  It’s possible they may try to bring Form 3’s back online; but, there appears to be some internal debate over whether the system can even handle that load.

With the return of Forms 1 and 2 (and potentially 3) to the current eForms Carrousel, the ATF is placing a clear emphasis on bringing Form 4 submissions to the new 2.0 platform first.

There were a lot of great ideas provided at the roundtable, and I hope those ideas will result in a better/more stable system for everybody.  Honestly, I was a bit doubtful that this roundtable would be worthwhile at all since it’s easy to fall into the traps of either ‘over-designing’ or just whining about the current system.  I’m very happy to have been proven wrong – and I’m optimistic that eForms 2.0 will deliver what the industry is looking for.

It sounds like they would like to have a working system up and running in 3-6 months; but, with the bureaucracy that’s involved, it could be as long as a year.  Personally, I’m going to root for the 3-6 month option. :)

I will admit that I’m a little surprised that they aren’t going to try improving the back-end of the current system to hold everybody over until eForms 2.0 is released – but it doesn’t sound like that option is on the table.

Conclusion

I’ve been a software developer for all of my adult life and I’ve seen several great projects that were never actually released because of ‘feature-creep’.  In some ways, the best possible approach to eForms 2.0 would be to get a minimum viable product out the door that works well –  and then add to it using an iterative process.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the gov’t processes will allow that type of approach.

Regardless, I think the ATF is definitely moving in the right direction by pulling industry participants into the design process.  I’m also happy that they’re finally attacking the wait time problem that has gotten so severe over the last couple of years.

21 Responses to “eForms 2.0 Industry Roundtable”

  1. DW says:

    Thank you for keeping us informed as to what is happening as well as participating in the discussions and representing us well!!!

  2. Alexander M Barnett II says:

    You do fantastic work keeping us regular people out of the dark and keep us intellectually informed, thanks!

  3. Christian says:

    So it sound’s like Form 4 won’t be up until they launch eForms 2.0? I’ve been holding out for it, but looks like it’s time to do it in paper form.

    • Dave says:

      That’s what we’re understanding at this point. It’s too bad eForms 2.0 is farther out than we thought; but, at least the NFA Branch is getting the paper times down.

  4. cole says:

    Should I just wait for The Eform form4 to come back up I bought my suppressor in April and eforms has obviously been down since then, or should I have it submitted via paper. I would hate to wait a year for the Form 4 to come back online?

    • Dave says:

      Personally, I’d get it in via paper right away. The ATF kind of squashed any hopes that eForms might be back online soon for Form 4’s.

  5. Thanks Dave..
    Good info

    Charles
    TacticalGunReview.com

  6. Fordcnc@bellsouth.net says:

    Thanks for the update.
    Maybe my 14+ month wait will end soon.
    Like our present political situation.
    Sometimes my dreams get very big.

  7. Wilford says:

    What about Paper TRUST Form 4 any news on them ?

    • Dave says:

      Paper Trust Form 4 applications are still being processed normally – and that’s probably where the biggest boost will be seen with the new examiners.

      You can track the dates we’re currently getting back on this page:

  8. Saiidnn@msn.com says:

    I’ve been tracking three paper trust form 4s that were filed and went pending in November 2013.
    Up until about a month ago I was constantly told they were pending and would most likely come back in November. I called on Monday this week and she told me most likely September now as things were speeding up. Two months off what was to be expected is nice. :) These are Form 4s filed via paper trust in Florida.
    I was however lucky enough to have filed an Eform 4 on my trust in early January this year and it came back early June.

    Thank you for your work in this area for us and keeping us in the loop.
    Keep up the great work.

  9. radionsm@comcast.net says:

    Great info! Appreciate your update and opinion regarding what we can expect. Hopefully you’re right.

  10. Jarret says:

    Lately there seems to be a distinct acceleration in individual paper Form 4s. Trust paper Form 4s are lagging substantially? Any thoughts on why individual Form 4s are going so much faster than trusts Form 4s?

    • Gary Groppe says:

      Hi Jarret!
      We are looking in to this. The Individual Form 4’s actually take about a month longer than Trust. There is an error on our wait time that we are looking in to.

      Thanks

  11. Jarret says:

    Thanks, Gary. Ironically I received an approved paper Trust Form 1 from the ATF today. The check was cashed on 06/20/14, thus 74 days from check cashed to SBR approved. After reviewing recent NFAtracker data it seems a lot of people are getting approved paper Form1s back in 60-100 days. eForm1s are averaging 17-25 days to approval.

    I sure hope the ATF can get the paper Form 4s sped up….. Any idea why paper Trust Form 1s would be so fast compared to Trust Form 4s?

    • Gary Groppe says:

      eForms is very quick as was Form 3 and 4 when that option was available. Form 3 and 4 are a lot higher volume and have to go through data entry, scanning then off to examiners etc. I think the volume of the paper Form 4 is the main cause for the slow turn around. We have, however, seen month over month improvement in the turn around time. The goal of the ATF is to get the approval time down under six months.

  12. Alan Brown says:

    The last email I got 6/9/2014 from Silencershop said application had been received and check cashed on 6/6/2014. Have not heard a thing since then???

    • Gary Groppe says:

      There really is no status other than approved/declined after that. The ATF does not provide status once a Form 4 goes pending. The approval time is running 4.5 to 5.5 months currently.

  13. Samuel Boyd says:

    How can I get the form for class 3 firearm?

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