Personnel, payroll will merge

The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps currently maintain their own service-unique
pay and personnel data networks that are often slow, inaccurate and costly, service
officials said.

But the joint system is designed to efficiently manage the records of millions of
active duty and reserve soldiers, sailors, pilots and Marines by providing one-stop
personnel and pay transactions, according to a DOD mission statement.

The unified system will support one-time data entry that automatically triggers all
personnel and pay transactions. So if an officer in the Air Force changes assignments,
moves or retires, a personnel officer need enter the information only once and the data
will post to all of the DOD employee's records.

Norma St. Claire, DOD's director of information management in the Office of the
Undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness, drafted the mission plan. Deputy Defense
secretary John White signed off on the mission statement just before stepping down from
his post this month.

DOD's mission statement is based on the recommendations of a Defense Science Board task
force report released last August that urged DOD to move to an integrated pay and
personnel system that supports all the military services. The department is implementing
the recommendations.

The DSB task force found that there were no technical or functional barriers to
preclude the development of such a system and recommended initial fielding by 2001. But
DOD officials said that the new system will not be operational until 2002 at the earliest.

This is a strange situation because the decision was made to go forward and the money
was provided before the mission statement was approved, St. Claire said. It's the only
program she said she knew of that had its money before its mission.

Last December, White signed Program Budget Decision Memorandum No. 071, which
authorized the department to spend several million dollars this year and next to define
functional requirements for the system. It also authorized the design, development and
testing of software.

The plan calls for DOD to use software based on a commercially available human
resources and payroll application that meets DOD's technical Common Operating Environment
guidelines. The core functional modules must also accommodate service-specific
requirements, according to a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf Analysis and Evaluation Plan that
St. Claire's office recently finished.

St. Claire estimated the cost of developing the software at $100 million. But hardware
and maintenance costs to support it will be much higher, she said.

The services will be responsible for buying the necessary COE-compliant hardware to run
the system.

The Navy will create a joint program management office later this year in New Orleans
to oversee the system's development. White has designated the Navy as the executive agent
for field-level component development.

Until the new system is ready, DOD will retain a joint military pay system, a number of
service-specific personnel systems, and a hybrid Marine Corps system that in many ways
will be the model for DOD's new pay-personnel system.

The Marine Corps Total Force System is a fully integrated pay and personnel system that
keeps track of all active, reserve and retired Marines.

The Corps will be the last service to make the transition to the new all-service
system, St. Claire said.

"The Marine Corps' integrated pay and personnel system is the right way to go and
we ought to do it for everybody else," DOD comptroller John Hamre said.

The Defense Joint Military Pay System is being developed by the Defense Finance and
Accounting Service. The Army and Air Force are already using the system and the Navy
should be by the end of the year. The services will use this system for payroll operations
until the new payroll and personnel system is complete.

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