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New DFAS System Should Simplify, Speed Pay Changes

By Staff Sgt. Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 1999 – Military and DoD civilian employees and retirees will soon be able to make many routine changes to their official pay accounts whenever they want by phone or via the World Wide Web.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service is in the process of implementing the Employee/Member Self Service program. DFAS officials project the program will be available for some customers in February 2000.

The officials said defense payroll customers using the round-the-clock Web and phone systems will be able to change their federal income tax withholding; start, stop or change allotments; change their correspondence address; and update information for their financial institution electronic fund transfers.

DFAS officials said the self-service program should improve the processing of pay changes by saving time and reducing the current paper trail. Now, customers may have to wait weeks for action because they must visit a finance customer service representative and submit written forms that have to be processed by a string of clerks, they explained.

"Employee/Member Self Service provides an alternative to completing and submitting forms and will provide reliable and accurate information," DFAS project officer Gloria Cranford-Bates said. "Most importantly, E/MSS will be a fast, easy and secure way for customers to update payroll- related transactions at their convenience."

The system will allow customers to make changes nearly instantly on their own. Officials explained that no written confirmation will be received, but members can check changes by re-accessing the system in a week. Changes will also be annotated on the customer's next Leave and Earning Statement.

A personal identification number will control customer access. DFAS plans to mail letters to eligible customers with a temporary PIN they can customize the first time they use the system, officials said. The letter will also give customers the Web site address and the toll-free number to access the system.

The DFAS plan calls for E/MSS to become available in two phases. DFAS representative Cathy Ferguson said letters are being mailed to DoD retirees and surviving annuitants, Marines and civilian employees, the first group of people who will have system access. Soldiers, sailors and airmen will gain access a few months later.

The military services' current telephone systems for their members will eventually be rolled into the DFAS self- service system.

E/MSS Internet transactions will be encrypted using 128-bit encryption and Secure Socket Layer technology, DFAS officials said. This will prevent information from being read by others while being transmitted from the customers personal computer to the E/MSS Web site. Also for security reasons, officials recommend against using cellular phones to access the IVRS system.

Additional information can be obtained on the DFAS Web site, www.dfas.mil.

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