Checked into Spawar's fold

Naval Reserve Information Systems Office

The Navy moved the Naval Reserve Information Systems Office under the umbrella

of a major systems command last week and, in doing so, intends to give it

more budgetary clout and help the reserve reduce the number of legacy systems

it uses.

The newly named Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command's Information

Technology Center (Spawar ITC) manages two major programs that are part

of the Navy and Defense Department's attempts to maintain standard personnel

systems: the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System and the

Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System (NSIPS).

Spawar ITC maintains "dozens" of legacy systems for payroll, personnel

tracking and order taking, said Rear Adm. John Gauss, Spawar commander,

after the Nov. 30 change-of-command ceremony in New Orleans. He wants ITC

officials to reduce that number and also improve system performance.

Sailors need to know that their families are being paid on time while

they're deployed, that they will receive job orders on time and that their

personnel records are up-to-date, Gauss said.

By most accounts, the existing payroll system for naval reservists could

use improvement. "The system [stinks]," said Lt. Thomas Sliski, a Naval

Reserve recruiter at the Marine Corps and Navy's Anacostia Annex in Washington,

D.C. "You can go to any Naval Reserve installation, and they'll tell you

the same thing."

Sliski said he and other reservists called to active duty had to deposit

their paychecks manually rather than through electronic funds transfer.

Sliski said such problems wear down reservists' morale.

Some reservists called to active duty for the Persian Gulf War also

had difficulty getting credit for their service and getting returned to

their reserve detachments, according to the Web site of the undersecretary

of Defense for personnel and readiness.

For its part, NSIPS hasn't made much progress as a major system since

its approval in May 1997 at the concept level by the Major Automated Information

System Review Council, an office within DOD. Spawar ITC officials have used

relational database management system software by Oracle Corp., as well

as applications software by Oracle and Peoplesoft Inc., but the system has

had glitches, said Lt. John Filostrat, a Naval Reserve spokesman in New

Orleans.

During a speech last month in San Diego, Naval Reserve Rear Adm. Casey

Coane, special assistant to the director of the Chief of Naval Operations'

Space, Information Warfare, Command and Control Directorate, admitted the

Naval Reserve's business systems suffer from neglect. The system to deliver

orders to reservists, for example, is "two years behind" where it should

be, and Spawar ITC officials finally decided recently to adopt the Marines'

order-writing system, he said.

"We would like to e-mail reservists their orders," said Joyce Lynn Davis,

project manager for the order-writing system at Spawar ITC. Under the Navy

Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) program, reservists will receive 80,000 "seats"

with Internet access, something currently not available to all of them.

Under its former command, Spawar ITC increased its personnel 10 times — to 1,300 people including contractors — in less than four years, said

Lt. Cmdr. Greg Geisen, a Spawar spokesman. Its budget has tripled in three

years, though Gauss wouldn't release details about the ITC budget.

As ITC has grown and taken on maintenance of more homegrown mainframe,

PC and Unix systems, officials have been forced to maintain the systems

without integrating them, Geisen said. And because DOD officials who maintain

them were afraid to make mistakes, they usually adopted conservative policies

on systems management.

Although Spawar ITC is currently forcing some reservists to deal with

paper-based paychecks, thousands of Marines and Defense Finance and Accounting

Service personnel can check their payroll information through a Web-based

system and even make address and payroll deduction changes in some cases.

Navy officials plan to build Web-based capabilities into NSIPS and other

systems by 2002, when NMCI is deployed to the fleet. NMCI will give Spawar

ITC's programs the long-haul network they need to deliver password-protected

Web-based content, Geisen said.

Gauss said he hadn't looked closely at any of Spawar ITC's systems yet.

Military payroll systems have specific business rules that need to be written

into the software, so the organization's contractors will continue to write

customized packages, he said.Spawar links

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