I think that there are several things occurring at once.
- BSA requirements (as printed in the various handbooks and 20XX Requirements books explicitly reference NetSmartz.org/Scouting as the location for the scouts to find and execute the requirements.
- NCMEC changed their website layout, and the BSA didn’t adapt to this quickly.
- It was noted on these discussion boards shortly afterward that the change had occurred, and the various volunteers pulled together to sort out where to find all of the required parts (or at least as many as we could locate).
- The BSA has not yet updated the requirements test to adapt to the new situation.
Item 2 generated the immediate issue, in that the change occurred while the BSA was relying on the content and layout of a non-BSA site to remain static.
Items 1 and 4 mean that the folks at Scoutbook can’t change what the requirements text says until the BSA changes the text of the requirements in the official sources.
Item 3 (together with some work by the BSA revising theirin-house website for CyberChip) provided a work-around so that scouts can continue to execute the requirements without having to go to NetSmartz.
One potential interim approach would be for the BSA to put out a Bryan on Scouting article or national announcement addressing the changes so that unit leaders become aware and can make their scouts and parents aware of the changes to the location of the information. That’s not something the folks at this site can actually do anything about.
A longer-term approach would be for the BSA to avoid reliance on third-party properties for advancement. While this is good in theory, in practice it becomes expensive (in money, time or both) to maintain duplicative programs, and has the potential to infringe on others’ copyrights/trademarks.
For example, consider the BSA’s Outdoor Ethics program. The BSA uses the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace, which are copyrighted by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, under an MOU with the center. Such cooperation advances the goals of both organizations, without the added expense to the BSA of developing and maintaining its own full program. In addition, since the Center’s mission is narrowly focused on promoting outdoor ethics, particularly with programs based on science and field-tested practices, it is likely more able than the BSA to maintain the latest information in that particular field.
Similarly, the BSA was relying on materials developed by the NCMEC for online child-protection training, since NCMEC has the personnel and mission to keep that type of material updated on a more frequent basis than the BSA is likely to be able to maintain.
I don’t disagree that it would be ideal if the BSA could develop and maintain all of this program material in-house, but, at the same time, I look at it as similar to the various requests for the BSA to provide file and web hosting as part of Scoutbook. Those are services better provided by outside vendors that would otherwise increase costs of operation for the BSA to provide. Is it worth the added costs of bringing the program elements in-house? I’m not sure, since I don’t know what those numbers are. I’m pretty happy with how the Outdoor Ethics program relationship with the Leave No Trace Center is working, at least for my area. I’ve never liked the Cyber Chip in this incarnation, so the fact the NetSmartz website isn’t working hasn’t changed my opinion.