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TOKYO — The Army will begin using an online program next spring to manage pay and personnel records for the entire service — active duty, guardsmen and reservists, according to Army officials.

Originally, the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System was supposed to go online for the Army this fall, with the Air Force set to launch in February 2009, followed by the Navy and Marine Corps.

But Army and Defense Department program managers decided to postpone those dates in late April, after systems integration specialists hit some snags during the initial testing phase of the program, according to Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for the Army’s DIMHRS program. The Air Force is now slated to go online in November 2009, with the Navy and Marine Corps joining in 2011.

"The date was delayed to ensure that the system was functional and fully operational" before transferring more than 1 million active and reserve soldiers’ pay and personnel records into it, Curry told Stripes on Tuesday.

Based on a commercial program used by companies like Toyota and Wal-Mart, the new system will allow a soldier to review pay stubs, request vacation time, apply for awards, prepare promotion packages and re-enlist.

The system also will allow commanders to approve evaluations, resolve pay requests and track other personnel issues without waiting for a delivery of records, according to Army Col. Pat Devine, the Pentagon’s point man for implementing the program.

The system will combine nearly 70 existing military personnel and pay programs into one, providing each soldier with a single record through all components, assignments and deployments, Devine said.

"In DIMHRS, there will be one record per servicemember for his entire career," he said. "The information to the soldier is transparent," meaning a soldier should be able to track the progression of an awards request as it goes up the chain of command.

Personal records will follow the soldier, no matter status or affiliation — from basic training in Georgia, to field training in South Korea, to war in Iraq and to ready reserve status back at home.

The Pentagon began the project more than a decade ago after Congress mandated that the military have an all-inclusive personnel system for all service branches. Planning was postponed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Devine said.

In the past three years, Army leaders have stepped up the effort to implement the new system by March 1. This year alone, the Army is spending an estimated $50 million to make sure it goes online, he said.

The program will reshape how the Army’s traditional personnel offices and units run, Devine said. Already, the Army has downsized many of its personnel centers around the world to take soldiers out of offices and make them available for war.

Now, with the new system, the Army’s personnel offices will share the responsibility of tracking awards, promotions and demotions more directly with unit commanders, Devine said.

The program will also reshape some of the Army’s traditional language. Within DIMHRS, a soldier will become an employee. He or she will request absence, rather than leave. All will use employee identification numbers instead of Social Security numbers.

But Devine said he thought those changes were mainly semantics and would not affect traditional military language.

"It’s not as dramatic as some people are afraid of," he said last week during a briefing with officers and noncommissioned officers at Camp Zama, Japan.

Still, he said, change will not be seamless and will mean a lot of training and shifting of responsibilities in the next few months. "It’s going to be a serious emotional event," he said.

Stripes reporter Lisa Burgess contributed to this report.

DIMHRS Q&A

What’s the difference between the military’s MyPay and the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System?

MyPay handles the money — wages, taxes, life insurance, savings and allotments. DIMHRS will take over those duties but will also combine them with other personnel information — promotion requirements, award eligibilities, evaluations, commendations and demotions. DIMHRS will also automatically route paperwork to the next manager or commander whose approval or review is needed.

What happens to my officer record brief, the enlisted record brief and leave and earnings statements?

DIMHRS will replace all three with a Service Member Record Brief.

Will a guardsman or reservist enter DIMHRS only when called up for active duty?

No. The National Guard and Reserves will begin using DIMHRS by March 1, 2009, the same as active-duty soldiers. For example, a Kentucky Guard member’s record would follow the soldier at home, when called up for duty, and after returning home. The program is made to track pay changes, promotion points and awards status among all parts of the Army.

Will promotions — and pay increases — happen faster?

No. Promotion requirements and boards remain the same. But DIMHRS should allow a soldier to see his or her promotion paperwork, know what his or her commander has and spot what forms or training is missing.

What doesn’t DIMHRS do?

For now, it will not handle payments for temporary duties and permanent changes of station. That may change over time.

Will it handle basic allowance for housing payments?

Yes.

What do I need to do to get ready?

Every soldier and officer will need an active Army Knowledge On-Line e-mail account. Units will receive training on the system as March 1 nears. Individual accounts will be accessible through a password system. Managers and commanders who can access more than one record at a time will need to use a CAC — common access card — reader system.

What about veterans?

All veterans’ personnel issues will remain with Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

Source: http://www.dimhrs.mil and the Army DIMHRS office


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