The Army on Tuesday launched its long-awaited new human resources platform service-wide after spending more than half a billion dollars to create the system and facing years of delays.
The Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army, or IPPS-A, is now live across the entire service, according to a spokesperson, though some soldiers are seemingly experiencing connectivity and other technical issues. Some records might also not be fully updated, and soldiers are encouraged to review their personnel files for discrepancies or missing information, according to an internal memo reviewed by Military.com.
IPPS-A has effectively been in development for roughly a decade and has cost nearly $600 million to develop. The system consolidates key personnel records for a soldier and their unit to access, and aims to modernize the Army's aging online infrastructure.
"This is their pay; this is their promotion," Lt. Gen. Douglas Stitt, who oversees Army personnel policy, told reporters during a press conference last week. "Those are huge, and we don't want to screw this up."
The service-wide release comes after multiple delays, with the unified HR platform originally set to launch at the end of 2021. It has been in use in the Army National Guard as a sort of test phase since March 2020.
Those delays were due to technical issues in the midst of development and feedback from the National Guard that some parts of the system were not working as intended. As the service fully transitioned to IPPS-A, incorporating the active duty and Army Reserve in November, promotions were stalled, with legacy background systems being taken offline. Promotions should no longer face delays, with administrative systems now back online.
One goal of the new system is to try to overcome the Army's heavy reliance on paper forms for administration work. The new platform allows soldiers to file certain forms electronically and track where they are in approval processes.
"Why can't I just do my leave form on my phone and send it to my supervisor? There shouldn't be any more of this, 'Well, I don't know where my paper is, it's lost,'" Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston, the service's top enlisted leader, said in a message to the force in December.
Going beyond easier access to records in a centralized location, Army planners have IPPS-A at the center of the service's talent management goals. For years, service leaders have stressed the importance of commanders cataloging a soldier's talents beyond their Army jobs -- for example, if a soldier knows how to code or has other civilian qualifications the force can capitalize on.
"What we'll try to do in the Army is move from an industrial-age personnel management system, to a 21st-century talent management system," Gen. James McConville, the Army's top officer, told Military.com in an interview in July. "We tend to manage people by two variables. You're a sergeant of engineers, OK. That's how we would manage them. We would never know that he had a Ph.D.-type of level of coding. So, we're going to open up that aperture."
-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.