Long-delayed launch of Army HR platform in jeopardy – again

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It’s the sequel that HR professionals at the Army never wanted – the service is once again considering a possible delayed launch of its new HR and payroll platform, according to a senior official assigned to the project.

Col. Rebecca Eggers, who leads the Functional Management Division of the Army’s Integrated Pay and Personnel System (IPPS-A), spoke with Army Times about the potential delay in a phone interview Monday morning.

The Eggers team aims to consolidate all three components of the military into a single HR platform.

The service previously delayed the Army-wide version of the IPPS-A, an earlier version of which is already live for the National Guard, from an initial launch date of December 2021 to September 20 due of failed system tests. A spokesman for the Army’s personnel directorate said in May that the September 20 commissioning date was “on track” – but that is no longer the case.

According to Eggers, the sticking point is data communication failures between IPPS-A and two key HR systems.

Currently, IPPS-A does not work reliably with the service’s recruiting information system, which enables soldier onboarding, or with sending data to the workforce data center. Defense Works, which controls soldiers’ medical insurance and other benefits.

As a result, the service indefinitely delayed decommissioning a number of legacy HR systems that were scheduled to shut down or “shut down” on Saturday and again pressed pause on IPPS-A.

“The entirety of Version 3 – which we originally planned – is definitely off the table for September,” Eggers said.

It is not yet known whether a limited version of the IPPS-A will go live on September 20. Eggers said senior Army leaders will soon decide whether to launch a limited version of the platform or delay the full launch.

She acknowledged soldiers might be worried about how the delay will affect their postings and promotions, saying the service will release more information soon.

“We’ll get information and further direction on the street,” Eggers said. “We work closely with the Human Resources Command.”

She said that “the soldiers will be promoted in time, as if we haven’t lost our minds”, and that the permanent changes of position planned around the period “will always be valid”.

Service chiefs have long hailed the benefits they say the program will bring, particularly in streamlining compensation and talent management functions across the military. But the task of synchronizing the systems turned out to be more difficult — and possibly more expensive — than expected.

What’s going on with IPPS-A?

Recent testing with limited users has shown “there are quite a few features that work,” Eggers said, but the service has always identified memberships and benefits as “risk areas” before entering. in the final phase of testing.

The lingering problem is what halted the first planned launch last year, when a senior G-1 official described the platform as “80% functional”.

It turns out that the delay was not enough to set the final 20%.

The contractor overseeing the systems integration effort, CACI International, received more than $557 million over seven years for the project so far.

According to the trade journal Washington Technology and one GAO Protest Tracker, the Army extended the expiring contract for a decade following a competitor’s protest. This could see the entrepreneur take home an additional $500 million, taking the platform’s potential price tag beyond $1 billion.

As head of functional management, Eggers pointed to the difficulty of bringing together aging HR systems that are written in different computer languages ​​and require complex data integration.

“We have very old systems written in COBOL [a 63-year-old programming language] and crazy language[s],” she says.

Eggers promised one thing, however: the deadline will be “short”. She added that it’s “even more painful for us [than the last one] because we know how close we are.

Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the military, specializing in accountability reports, personnel issues, and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master’s thesis on the influence of the Cold War-era Department of Defense. on Hollywood films of World War II.

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