Army, Navy want new personnel system sooner

The Army and Navy want to speed up their transition to the Defense Department integrated personnel and payroll system that is under development, officials said last week. The two services want to shift to the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS) as soon as possible so they can turn off older systems that cost bundles of money to maintain. When finished, DIMHRS will be the Defense Department's sole personnel and payroll system, covering 3.1 million military personnel including reserve and National Guard forces. The four-year contract for DIMHRS was awarded to PeopleSoft Inc. and is worth $120 million. The project is expected to be in place at all services by 2006. The Army and Navy hope to shave three years off that target date and have the new system in place by 2003, officials said in an interview with last week. "The Army and Navy would like to realize the cost savings of retiring legacy systems because of maintenance costs," said Navy Capt. Valerie Carpenter, DIMHRS program manager. The DIMHRS program office is trying to build consensus on speeding up implementation of the new system, and, according to Carpenter, has been heartened by its enthusiastic acceptance among the military services. Such far-reaching efforts are often unpopular, officials noted. A decision on whether the project will be fast-tracked is expected soon. Defense has known since the Gulf War that it needed a single system that could bring the human elements of a joint force together in one place. Ben Maguire, the DIMHRS program manager for PeopleSoft, said the requirements of joint operations are at the heart of the new system.

"Today there is no battle plan that doesn't envision the use of National Guard units and reserve forces," Maguire said. Fulton Fulton, DIMHRS' deputy program manager, said the system will focus on self-service and enable service members to check their personnel records to make sure they are accurate. And, Fulton said, the system will be intuitive and require little training because access is via a standard Web browser. The Air Force and Marines both support the development of DIMHRS, but neither service has asked for an accelerated implementation because they have newer human resources systems than the Army and Navy, Fulton said.

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