DoD Creating New All-Service Personnel, Pay System
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 7, 2002 DoD and the military services are getting rid of outdated personnel systems, business practices and personnel structures, but creating a new system will take time.
The jettisoned practices will make room for simple, accurate, accessible, timely and relevant Web-based systems for service members and their leaders. When the DoD fields the congressionally mandated Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, or DIMHRS, sweeping changes will occur in the way personnel and pay are handled.
DoD is establishing one personnel and pay system for use by all the services. The project is a transformation effort; that is, one intended to provide the U.S. military with new defenses, new methods, new equipment and a different way of thinking.
As it stands today, the military services still have hundreds of "legacy systems" written in 1970s and 1980s computer languages that today's computers don't "speak," according to Army Reserve Maj. Gen. B. Sue Dueitt, who is overseeing the Army's implementation of the program.
For example, Dueitt said, the Army has separate personnel databases for active duty enlisted, active duty officers and Army Reservists and National Guard. They neither talk to each other nor to Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps systems, she noted.
Consequently, the general said, to keep track of Guard and Reserve personnel upon mobilization, their data must be combined with Active Army data through a cumbersome process. If not done, she continued, warfighting commanders couldn't tell how many active, Guard and Reserve personnel they have, their skills, their rotation dates and other details. Then the data must be reseparated when reservists demobilize.
Navy Capt. Valerie Carpenter, program manager, said the Navy is the executive agent for DIMHRS, but the Army will be the first to implement the program. Carpenter is assigned to the New Orleans-based Navy Program Executive Office for Information Technology.
DoD is footing most of the bills, but all the services will pay shares, such as for training and the detailed implementation, according to Dueitt, assistant Army deputy chief of staff for personnel for mobilization and reserve affairs.
Norma St. Claire, director of DoD's Joint Requirements and Integration Office, said system development is scheduled to start in July 2002 with the Army starting testing in 2003. She said plans call for the Navy to be on board in 2004, the Marine Corps sometime in 2005, and the Air Force last.
St. Claire said a key piece of DIMHRS is commercial software called PeopleSoft 8. When everything is in place, the application would allow service members to go onto the Internet at any time from anywhere to access personal information and take care of everything from administrative matters to pay issues, she said.
Keeping track of service members' whereabouts during mobilizations and deployments is another area needing improvement, St. Claire noted. Officials recognized some problems after the Persian Gulf War "like our inability to know who was exposed to things or who was called up," she noted. "Thousands of people were lost in the system."
DIMHRS is an opportunity to consolidate personnel and pay activities instead of having separate offices in each service, St. Claire noted. It will also be a godsend for service members leaving the services.
"They'll no longer have to wait weeks or months to obtain information from DoD for Veterans Affairs benefits. Since DIMHRS is being designed to input data within 24 hours, the information will be available almost immediately," St. Claire pointed out.
On the other hand, consolidating the affected personnel and pay systems isn't something done overnight.
"We have to deal with all the rules and regulations for the acquisition process and a host of other things that take time," she said. For instance, commercial software and practices worked this time but won't always, because the DoD has to do some things differently to meet mission- essential requirements, she noted, and that means, "We have to figure out a way to cross that 'mission critical' gap."