A New Magic Bullet?

By Elizabeth Bennett Print this article Print

Soldiers back from combat see their salary docked or withheld, as the Army strives to update its payroll and personnel systems.

A New Magic Bullet?

The fixes made to the pay and personnel systems in 2004 were never meant to be long-term. The Army has been awaiting the implementation of a single integrated pay and personnel system that it says will eliminate more than 30 legacy Army applications as well as the systems of the other armed services. The Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, which has been in the works for eight years and is now on hold for a business requirements assessment, is one component of a massive business systems modernization project managed by the Defense Department.

The integrated Oracle/PeopleSoft human-resources management application is supposed to be deployed in 2008, three years later than the originally scheduled implementation, says Deputy Undersecretary Brinkley. He attributes the project delays to an administration change and eight years of turnover in the program's senior management. "There was conflict over how to best implement the system," he says. The program has been restructured, he says, under the leadership of Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England.

It is to be the largest human-resources software deployment in the world, according to Brinkley, keeping track of and paying 3 million uniformed and civilian workers in all branches of the military. In 2003, the Defense Department awarded Northrop Grumman $281 million to serve as the primary systems integrator for the project until 2013.

Brinkley says the integrated system will greatly simplify the pay and personnel management process: "It will be vastly more oriented toward mistake avoidance."

But that's cold comfort to Staff Sgt. Kelly and the thousands of soldiers who already returned from the war front to withheld or docked pay. "The fact that it was allowed to get to the point it's at now—it's unconscionable," he says. "You shouldn't send an army to war if you can't pay it."

This article was originally published on 2006-05-06
Senior Writer
Elizabeth has been writing and reporting at Baselinesince its inaugural issue. Most recently, Liz helped Fortune 500 companies with their online strategies as a customer experience analyst at Creative Good. Prior to that, she worked in the organization practice at McKinsey & Co. She holds a B.A. from Vassar College.
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