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Changes Coming For Military Pay Systems

The Army online pay system will launch in October 2008. The Air Force will follow suit in February 2009. The Navy and Marines have yet to set a launch date.

Hopefully some of the included information will help you and your service member prepare for the upcoming changes.

So, what is this all about?

Here is the skinny:

The Army is planning to launch an online pay and personnel system in October that will bring all three components into a single database.

The Army Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, or DIMHRS, represents the Army's first efforts to pull the reserves and active Army under one pay system, the program's director, Army Col. Patrick Devine, told Stripes on Tuesday.

The system, the result of a Defense Department mandate to streamline all the service's record-keeping capabilities, is also the first time the Army has merged payroll and personnel data, Devine said.

Once DIMHRS ("pronounced dimers") goes online Oct. 1, 2008, personnel actions will automatically trigger associated pay events, starting the cash flowing to the Soldier's paycheck without delay, Devine said.

For example, when a Soldier is mobilized to deploy to a designated combat zone, DIMHRS will automatically update the payroll section of the Soldier's records, so he starts receiving entitlements such as Hazardous Duty Incentive Pay.

Another change will be to eliminate the choice of being on a monthly or biweekly pay cycle.

Instead, all Soldiers will now receive two paychecks each month, Devine said.

Under the new system, the Leave and Earning Statement (LES), will be renamed a "Pay Slip."

It will have the same data as the old LES, but the information will be displayed on different areas of the page, Devine said.

The Army is sending strategic communications teams that will provide an overview of the program, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Curry said.

Curry said these "change management" teams are briefing senior leaders, brigade and battalion-level leaders, human resource professionals and Soldiers.

Most Soldiers will be trained via distance-learning, Curry said.

Supervisors will use the program to process leave requests, awards and evaluations. Individual Soldiers can access their records and make some changes, such as address updates, he said.

The DIMHRS Web site, at www.armydimhrs.army.mil, also will have all the training materials available, he said.

The Air Force, meanwhile, is set to launch DIMHRS in February 2009. The Navy, which also oversees pay and personnel for the Marines, has yet to set a date for launching the system.

You can find a variety of information and answers to your questions on the Army DIMHRS website.

Some direct links for specific information can be found via the below links.

Information Fact Sheet

Sample Pay Slip

Pay Slip Terminology and Data Elements

Service Member Self Service

Acronyms used by DIMHRS

Active Army Pay Process Workflow

Reserve Pay Process Work Flow

Guard Pay Process Work Flow

**UPDATES**

Delayed

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.

UDPATED - 23 Feb 2010

DIMHRS Program Dumped

After spending $1 billion and 12 years of effort, Defense officials have pulled the plug on a hapless plan to bring the four military branches under a single payroll and personnel records system.

"This program has been a disaster," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, told the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month. He said he applauded the decision to kill what proponents said would be the largest, fully-integrated human resource system in the world.

"Many of the programs that I have made decisions to cut have been controversial within the Department of Defense," Defense Secretary Robert Gates explained to senators. "I will tell you this one was not."

The object of so much disaffection is the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS), known as "Dime-ers."

Secretary Gates clearly wasn't a fan of the title or program, which at its peak employed 600 military, federal civilians and private contractors who tried to use off-the-shelf technology to meld up to 90 automated systems that continue to run across DOD.

"I would say that what we've gotten for a half billion dollars is an unpronounceable acronym," Gates quipped, though his cost estimate was short by half. The Government Accountability Office says a billion dollars had been spent on DIMHRS through 2009.

Its demise leaves the Army, Navy and Air Force still reliant on archaic, problem-plagued payroll and personnel systems. Required upgrades had been postponed again and again over the years, always in anticipation that all services would be moving to, and satisfied with, DIMHRS.

It was to start in the Army in April 2006. But this and four other initial deployment dates were set and cancelled. Last spring, Defense officials advised the Army, Navy and Air Force they could pursue their own personnel and payroll system upgrades.

More than time and money had been lost, however. Military personnel, particularly Guard and Reserve members, increasingly have been frustrated by pay and personnel record errors. The Commission on the National Guard and Reserves urged two years ago that a single, integrated pay and personnel system was needed "as soon as possible" to rectify inadequacies in fragile legacy systems.

More than 90 percent of Army Reserve and Guard soldiers activated to serve in Afghanistan and Iraq through 2003 reported significant pay errors. Aggressive actions were taken to lower that rate but without the benefit of what was needed - a modern payroll system that no longer treated active and reserve component members differently.

The current systems use programming language from the late-1960s that are unable to handle complex changes. When new pays are adopted, it was taking the Army on average 12 to 18 months to automate. Some pays, like medical bonuses, can't be programmed and must be calculated manually.

DIMHRS was to relieve all of that. It would track assignments, process orders and show immediate changes to members' duty status to ensure timely, accurate pay, benefits and service credit. Members would be able to monitor a single comprehensive record online, including any health or safety incidents which would bear on future benefits.

The goals were good, Mullen told Sen. Roland W. Burris, D-Ill., when the senator heatedly challenged the decision to shelve DIMHRS after so much time and expense. "It's just we're not getting there with DIMHRS," Mullen said. "We are wasting our money."

The Marine Corps alone began a decade ago to move to a combined personnel and payroll system, the Marine Corps Total Force System (MCTFS). The Navy as far back as 2006 wanted to adopt MCTFS but Congress balked, with GAO noting that $668 million already had been invested in DIMHRS.

Six years ago, after multiple pay problems surfaced again for mobilized personnel, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service stopped waiting for DIMHRS and announced it would phase in a more reliable, effective interim pay system, the Forward Compatible Payroll. FCP promised far fewer errors, an easy-to-read Leave and Earnings Statement and instantaneous adjustments to pay records. But the FCP never started.

Again, the rationale seemed to be not to spend millions more on an interim payroll fix when DIMHRS was so near. Thus an aging, problem-plagued military pay system went uncorrected.

Neither Mullen nor Gates spoke of the services salvaging parts of DIMHRS to use for their own system upgrades, though that seems to be the intent. Burris had pressed Mullen to explain why the Office of Personnel Management can operate one pay and personnel system for all federal civilians yet DOD can't do that for its military population.

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