Navy sailors soon will be able to access their personnel records using a mobile phone or tablet without needing common access card, or CAC, authentication.
Depending on how well the service's beta test of a mobile personnel application works, the other services may follow suit.
The Navy is conducting a full-scale beta test of a mobile application called MyRecord App, which eventually will allow sailors to conduct all personnel transactions using a phone or tablet.
Chief of Navy Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke said in a service-wide message Jan. 8 that the goal is to provide access to the My Navy Portal with the "same level of security as [sailors] expect from their personal banking services."
"As functionality improves, you can expect to find an increasing number of tools at your fingertips that will allow you and your spouse to accomplish things that previously required a trip to a Personnel Support Detachment," he said in the release.
Burke is asking sailors to participate in the beta test to help evaluate the app's security. To do so, they must start by registering and completing the installation process at a CAC-enabled desktop computer.
Viewing the My Navy Portal on a CAC-enabled computer, sailors will see an option to start "CAC Free Setup." The app will then walk the user through establishing a multi-factor authentication account.
Users must download Okta Verify, a common, free app that enables multi-factor authentication, and the Navy's MyRecord App. Both are available on Apple Apps and Google Play.
Sailors initially will be able to access a read-only version of some of their data. Once Navy officials have determined that the system works securely as promised, it will begin widening its capabilities, they said.
Speaking at a symposium on maritime security concerns Thursday in Washington, D.C., Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith said this type of technology is exactly what sailors expect when they join the service.
"Sailors very much enjoy getting their hands in some of the most cutting-edge and lethal technology that we employ. It's this personal technology where we lag behind and are just starting to catch up," Smith said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
He added that the Navy beta test is a "test case in two-factor authentication" that the Defense Department will monitor and possibly institute on a wider scale if it's a success.
"[The Navy is] taking the risk, but it's well worth it," Smith said.
The service is encouraging sailors to provide feedback on the app and tell the Navy Personnel Command what functions they'd like to see in the future.
"Coupled with the improved customer service and responsiveness of My Navy Career Center, you can expect continuous improvement in how personnel services are delivered in the coming months," Burke said.
-- Patricia Kime can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.