Some Air Force personnel services moving to online system
Stars and Stripes March 13, 2006
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — Following the military trend to reduce costs by moving administrative functions to the Web, the Air Force this month will begin transferring some of its personnel services to an online system.
Starting March 31, the Air Force will move parts of its personnel services delivery system, which handles everything from duty assignments to retirement procedures, into a Web- based system through its online Air Force Portal.
Once in place, everything from applying for formal training to re-enlisting will be done through the Web portal instead of in person at a military personnel flight (MPF) office, said Chief Master Sgt. Salina James, MPF superintendent at RAF Mildenhall.
The conversion, which is being implemented in phases and will remove all but a few key functions from MPF’s hands, will be rolled out during the next two years. Starting this month, the office will hand over such functions as duty history requests, retraining, retirement, and appeals on evaluations and appeals to the board for correction of military records.
“The biggest thing people are going to see [March 31] — retraining and re-enlistments are leaving the MPF,” James said.
Like the conversion of payroll and leave request processes to online systems — a la MyPay and LeaveWeb — the move is meant to reduce the man-hours needed to complete traditionally paper-heavy processes.
According to James, the MPF is taking a significant staffing cut — 1,500 personnel between 2005 and 2010 — forcing the office to change the way it does business, she said.
Currently, only about 10 percent of Air Force personnel services delivery “transactions” take place on the Web, James said, but by the end of the conversion, officials want that number to be 85 percent.
Up until now, online applications have been limited to just a few, said Ramstein MPF superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Angelika Fleming, though airmen have been able to access parts of personnel records, such as their list of decorations.
Under the new system, MPF workers will still manage passport and visa requests, casualty paperwork and ID cards, among other functions, but will act only as advisers on many of their old responsibilities, James said.
Instead, when an airman wants to apply for a new assignment, for instance, he or she will now go online to log the request, instead of traveling to the personnel flight office and starting a paper chain. Personnel officers will still be on hand to help airmen navigate the system, but direct assistance will come from a call center in San Antonio, to be open 24 hours a day.
The same will follow for separations, retention, testing, retirements and most of the office’s other major functions, James said.
“By December 2007, just about all these functions will be out of MPF,” she said.
Early on, however, in the opening months, “some parts of these processes may still require outside the online application,” a brochure on the new system reads. “The Web will become the first step in initiating these transactions. Additional capability will be added to the Web applications over time.”
To help administrators and servicemembers make the transition, briefings will be held at Air Force bases around U.S. Air Forces in Europe starting next week. Those interested in learning more about the online personnel services delivery system can visit their local personnel office or the Air Force Portal.