Airmen told to check pay updates with system shutdown approaching
By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 26, 2012
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Air Force in December will temporarily shut down its personnel data system for a major overhaul that could affect airmen’s pay if they don’t ensure critical updates are made to their records before the upgrade begins, officials say.
The Military Personnel Data System – better known as MilPDS – is scheduled to be down for about 23 days starting in early December, according to officials at the Air Force Personnel Center in San Antonio. They’re urging airmen to submit paperwork for separations, re-enlistments, current enlistment extensions and retirements well in advance of the upgrade.
“If you have one of those life-changing events going on, get those things taken care of before we bring the system down,” said Col. James Davis, director of the personnel center’s Total Force Service Center.
MilPDS is the primary records database for personnel information and actions that occur throughout an airman’s career, from rank changes to re-enlistment dates. It was supposed to be replaced in 2008 by a single Defense Department pay and personnel system, but that system was canceled, Air Force officials said.
The $15 million upgrade is sorely needed, officials said, as MilPDS is outdated, making its hardware difficult to replace if something breaks, among other problems, said Anthony Delgado, an Air Force Personnel Center system manager.
The project will involve turning the current system off while data is migrated to a new software version that includes web-based access and will be hosted at the Defense Information System Agency, Air Force officials said.
“In the end, we’re going to have an improved system” that’s more reliable and secure, Davis said.
Airmen still will receive their base pay during the system shutdown, said Master Sgt. Christopher Murawski, manager of the personnel center future operations branch, but modifications will be put on hold and paid retroactively if not completed before the system goes offline.
“If you’re promoted during the migration, or request some sort of special pay or allowance, such as a foreign language proficiency bonus, that will be transferred after the fact” to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to correct airmen’s pay, he said.
The Air Force has a backup plan to ensure paychecks still flow during the upgrade to airmen who decide on short-notice to re-enlist or not to separate, for example, officials said. The service will be able to bypass the personnel database and go directly to DFAS to continue airmen’s pay, if necessary.
But airmen should try to plan in advance as much as possible to avoid pay interruptions or not being paid properly during the shutdown, officials said.
The Air Force is cutting permanent-change-of-station orders faster than usual to ensure airmen will be able to move during the month of December with no problems, officials said.
At Ramstein Air Base, Germany, military personnel specialists are contacting the leadership of everyone with a move date in December to make sure they’re prepared, said Staff Sgt. Andre Lewis, an outbound technician with the 786th Force Support Squadron, “so when the system does go down, it’s, out-process and get on the plane.”
Staff Sgt. Andre Lewis, an outbound technician with the 786th Force Support Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, reviews a page on the Air Force's Military Personnel Data System on Sept. 26, 2012, with co-worker, Staff Sgt. Jennifer Kellar, the noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of retirements and separations. The Air Force said issues like pay could be impacted when system goes down in December for a major overhaul.
Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes