BY CMDR. BILL DARNEY, SC, USN
In 1995, the Under Secretary of Defense established a Task Force to develop an integrated military personnel, pay, and financial management system for all of the Department of Defense (DoD). This system was called the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS). It was believed that with the development of this system, it would bring savings by reducing manual workload and thereby enabling a reduction in manpower. Several initiatives were implemented to operationalize these savings.
These initiatives were:
- In 2004, the Secretary of the Navy announced the merger of the disbursing clerk and personnel specialist ratings.
- In 2007, as a result of the Civilian Substitution/A-76 initiative, the Navy directed the conversion of 500 enlisted End Strength (E/S) personnel and pay support billets per year beginning in fiscal year (FY) 2008 and ending in FY 2011 for a total reduction of 2,240 enlisted E/S billets.
However, in early 2009 after a substantial investment, the DoD cancelled the DIMHRS initiative. Shortly thereafter, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics directed the Services to develop service-specific personnel and pay programs, leveraging the DIMHRS core information technology investment to the maximum extent practical. In late 2009, the Navy responded with the Future Personnel and Pay System (FPPS).
On Oct. 18, 2010, the Under Secretary of the Navy (UNSECNAV) directed a strategic pause and a further review of FPPS to address:
a. Organizational governance issues
b. Concept of operations development
c. Business process reengineering in-depth analysis
d. Functional requirements development
Simultaneously, the UNSECNAV tasked the Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) with resolving personnel and pay organizational alignment. The VCNO designated Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Manpower, Personnel, Training and Education) (N1) as the Navy end-to-end business process owner for Navy personnel and pay matters on Dec. 16 2010.
The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (ASN), Financial Management and Comptroller (FM&C) and OPNAV (N1) initiated a review of Navy Pay, Personnel, and Transportation Services. The subject review was completed and the Special Task Force (STF) reported its findings and recommendations in a final report.
Based on this history, as documented in the Personnel and Pay STF final report of March 15, 2016. It was determined that the Military Pay appropriations internal controls environment represented a material weakness in the auditability of transactions initiated by the pay and personnel support activities.
Once the ASN (FM&C) received the final report, a Personnel/Pay Administrative Support System (PASS) STF was formed to address the findings and recommendations.
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As the Immediate Superior in Command for Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) Meridian, Mississippi and Personnel Specialist (PS) “A” School, Center for Service Support (CSS) Commanding Officer Capt. Derric Turner was assigned to lead the Training and Performance Improvement Working Group (T&PI WG). The task for the T&PI WG was to review the final report and correct those findings and recommendations which identify a need for more training in the areas of Pay and Personnel functions within Personnel Support Detachments (PSD) and afloat units. Once the T&PI WG identified the applicable findings and recommendations they immediately began to see where the gaps were in training. One noticeable area of concern was the lack of formal initial training administered to the civilian general schedule (GS) workforce within the PSDs. There was plenty of on-the-job and Navy E-Learning training available for the PSD workforce, however the T&PI WG felt that formal schoolhouse training would greatly benefit the PSD GS workforce. As a result and due to the fact that formal training for PS’s was already in place under a new and revised curriculum, the T&PI WG looked into the possibility of adding an extra PS “A” school just for the civilian workforce. After much coordination and diligent efforts, CSS and the T&PI WG were able to convene two PS “A” schools for GS’s at NTTC Meridian.
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The first course convened July 25 – Aug. 17, 2016 and had 13 civilians and 10 military. For the second GS/PS course, the T&PI WG modified the PS “A” school and removed some of the military specific portions (such as Navy Cash®) which do not pertain to the GS civilians and their job duties. This shortened the course by two days. The second course was held from Sept. 7–30, 2016, and was attended by 19 civilians. At the beginning of each of these courses, the instructors had the students take a pre-test to assess knowledge-level prior to taking the course. For these first two courses the pre-test average was 46 percent. Throughout the three–and–a–half week course there are four exams and a final. The overall average of all tests taken was 85 percent. This data indicates that although PSD civilians are very competent, diligent and hard-working employees, they still required additional training to prepare them for the incredibly important work they perform each day. The below graph illustrates student improvement in learning with the pre and post-test results from the first GS/PS special convene.
The T&PI WG received much feedback from the students and an overwhelming majority of the feedback is very positive. Here are comments from civilian students who attended the first course convene of GS2PS:
“Instructors are really helpful when they teach and they make sure everyone understands the material.”
“The quality of the course was outstanding. I enjoyed learning even though the time length for the course was very short.” Another comment in the first course (which was one of several comments for the same issue) was:
“The course was excellent. The section on Navy Cash® was unnecessary and will not help any civilian personnel. It will never be used in the civilian sector.”
As a result of constructive comments such as these, the course was altered to reflect a more appropriate material for the civilian students and the reality of their job duties.
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CSS and the T&PI WG continue to work with the PASS STF and the staff of the ASN (FM&C), and Navy Personnel Command Pay, Personnel and Benefits Branch to continually provide this much needed training to PSD’s and command PASS coordinators. CSS and the T&PI WG are planning (pending funding) to provide four more GS/PS courses, convening one in each quarter of fiscal year 2017.
The PS/GS “A” school convenes are not the long–term solution but rather “quick strike” actions until a more formal training path is stood up and implemented.
At the end of the day, it is about financial improvement and audit readiness (FIAR), and CSS plays a critical role in supporting the PASS STF in order to improve the support to the Fleet!