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By Sgt. 1st Class Nichole Bonham
State Public Affairs Office
Have you ever experienced a pay problem in the military because something didn’t get updated correctly? Or maybe you’ve turned in a document to your unit and it’s still not in your records? Did you know that the Army currently has as many as 200 different human resources and pay systems – most of which don’t talk to each other? When you look at it that way, it’s actually fairly impressive that we get it right as often as we do.
We can be doing better.
The Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army (IPPS-A) is the Army’s way of bringing their personnel and pay systems up-to-date. They will be rolling it out over the next few years, but the National Guard is getting it first. At 54 states and territories, with each one doing things their own way, it gives IPPS-A a chance to work out the bugs. As it stands, things are looking promising. Utah is on the last rotation of National Guard entities to transition to IPPS-A, which means there are already 27 other states and territories that have been ironing out the bugs before the rest of us go online in March 2020. The regular Army and Reserves will follow over the next couple of years.
Last October, the Army introduced what they call “The Army People Strategy.” Basically, it’s a shift in focus from “simply distributing personnel, to more deliberately managing the talents of our Soldiers and Civilians.”
You can download the 15-page strategy at https://people.army.mil/
Gen. James C. McConville, Army Chief of Staff, said, "What we want to do is start treating people like they're not interchangeable parts and start aligning them by their talents with the right jobs.”
IPPS-A has become the administrative face of this movement because, as McConnville describes it, “Since its inception, the IPPS-A program has made significant progress towards building a system that will usher in a new era of HR and talent management in the Army.”
Our current system is not auditable, it’s not fully compliant with Information Assurance or Cyber security needs, and it suffers approximately 5500 hours of downtime each year, across the various systems.
The goal for IPPS-A is to have a fully auditable and compliant system with zero downtime, on-demand online access, and mobile capability. Which means you, me, and every other Soldier on the ground will have some level of visibility and access to our records through an app on our phones.
Maj. Lee Baklarz, Sustainment Lead for the IPPS-A Release 2, describes our very near future by saying, “I can take a picture of my record or jump log, put it in IPPS-A and it will route to the battalion S-1.”
Right now, many personnel and pay transactions happen manually and are untraceable.
Baklarz says, “IPPS-A changes that by automating steps within the system. We’re the first in the Army to allow mobile access to the HR system.”
So what does this mean for you? Well, to be honest, maybe some initial hiccups as all the human resources personnel here in Draper and at the Army Guard armories throughout Utah get trained and spun up on the new processes. But, ultimately? For one thing, accurate and timely pay. IPPS-A has a 98 percent accuracy rate over 26 different pay transactions. Even better, it brings visibility down to the level where it matters most – to the people each personnel or pay transaction affects the most – the individual Soldier. You, me, your battle, your spouse. For years we’ve been told we’re in charge of our own careers, now we’re finally going to have the tools to manage it.
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