The Army's personnel database paves the way for DOD-wide system by 2006
- By Dawn S. Onley
- Oct 05, 2004
'The old system was rather clunky, and it hadn't kept up with technology. The real compelling argument [for moving to a new system] was software obsolescence.'
'Lt. Col. Joseph Klumpp
David S. Spence
Army brass had 4,000 reasons to build the Electronic Military Personnel Office.
The service was using that many human resources databases, many running obsolete software, when it was faced with the challenge of integrating Army personnel operations with a larger Defense Department initiative.
The single system the Army created, dubbed eMILPO, gives the service a better footing on which to move military personnel data to the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, or DIMHRS, by 2006.
The eMILPO system gives Army personnel employees access to personnel data stored in the service's multiple accounting, promotion and reassignment databases.Over the hill
Lt. Col. Joseph Klumpp, product manager for the Army Human Resource System'which develops, tests and deploys personnel systems that support soldiers in the field'said the Army has reduced the number of disparate human resource databases by switching to the eMILPO system.
For more than 30 years, the Army used the Standard Installation Division Personnel System as its main program for personnel and pay functions.
'The old system had some issues and was rather clunky, and the system hadn't kept up with the technology,' Klumpp said. 'The real compelling argument [for moving to a new system] was software obsolescence. You couldn't buy the compiler, and not knowing when DIMHRS would arrive, we needed to move to eMILPO quicker.'
Two years ago, the Army and lead contractor EDS Corp. started developing the multitiered Web application under a $9.5 million contract.
Klumpp oversees the Army's eMILPO office and a staff of about 12 employees. EDS has an additional 70 employees working on the human resource system.
The eMILPO system uses a Java2 Enterprise Edition application that runs over DOD's Non-Classified IP Router Network.
Users access the system via a hyperlink from the Army Knowledge Online portal.
The development of eMILPO encountered its share of obstacles.
Army officials delayed fielding the system for several months last year after it failed a final systems test because of data migration problems. The war in Iraq also set the transition back, although the system was approved for fielding by David Chu, undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness.
The Army reached full deployment of eMILPO in August of last year. The system has let the Army adopt more efficient business practices using commercial products and Web processes, officials said.Tickled pink
'Everyone is really excited about the [GCN] award,' Klumpp said. 'We're tickled pink because everyone's worked so hard. We've had some rough times too, but we've worked through them. We've rolled up our sleeves and worked the issues and got the products out there that meet the soldiers' needs.'
The overarching challenge for eMILPO was going from more than 4,000 servers, under the Standard Installation Division Personnel System Version 3, to two databases with eMILPO, said Kevin Carroll, the Army's program executive officer for enterprise information systems.
The main part of eMILPO is the Web interface that lets soldiers check or update a wide variety of personal data, such as phone numbers, addresses, job locations, titles, reassignment information and promotions.
In addition, the Enterprise Datastore server, separate from eMILPO, gathers the personnel data for the human resources system and lets users run reports and queries. The system relies on an Oracle9i database.
'This will now allow Army [personnel workers] to be in a much better position to move over military personnel data to DIMHRS,' Carroll said.Moving data
Carroll said the toughest technical obstacle was moving data from the old system software to eMILPO.
'To move data over to a new system and database, it requires a lot of upfront engineering work and then cleansing of the data to ensure it was accurate before populating the new database,' Carroll added.
He credited the success of the project to Army personnel employees, EDS and Klumpp and his staff.
'The success was the accomplishment of these two challenges, and subsequently providing a Web-based software application, through the Army Knowledge Online portal, which provided an easy-to-use system for the warfighter,' he said.
The Army is expected to transition to DIMHRS either late next year or early in 2006. The eMILPO system will eventually be shut off, as will the other services' human resource systems, after they migrate to DIMHRS.
Touted as one of the world's largest HR systems, DIMHRS will replace 88 legacy personnel and pay systems across the services with a single database for the military's active and reserve units.
Analysts have previously estimated that DOD will spend between $500 million and $1 billion on DIMHRS development.
So far, eMILPO has resulted in a 20 percent reduction in maintenance costs, the Army estimated.