DOD pay system hangs in balance

The military's joint accounting system is making its last stand at the Army's home of the infantry.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service is testing the $154.5 million Defense Joint Accounting System at Fort Benning, Ga., in the hope of winning congressional approval for full production.

"I know we're really close" to completing the congressionally mandated analysis, said Audrey Davis, chief information officer for DFAS. She predicted a report within weeks.

Last year, lawmakers concluded that Art Money, former Defense CIO, had failed to apply Clinger-Cohen oversight to DJAS. The Clinger- Cohen Act of 1996 instructed agencies to treat technology as an investment and tie those investments to performance.

Now, before DOD can authorize a full rollout of DJAS, officials must review system alternatives, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has to explain to the House and Senate Armed Services committees why the Air Force and Navy haven't joined the Army in using it.

Davis said DJAS uses a commercial hardware-based, Treasury Department-approved electronic certification system that costs $300 to $400 per workstation. Pilot program users at Fort Benning are using public-key infrastructure technology, which costs well under $100 per workstation to deploy.

The original strategy behind DJAS, according to Davis, was to eventually merge each service's standard accounting system. "We're making progress, albeit slow." DFAS officials do not expect a rollout decision for DJAS until the end of summer, said Catherine Ferguson, a DFAS spokeswoman.

Until then, the parties involved remain tight-lipped. Electronic Data Systems Corp., which is developing a client/server architecture for DJAS, declined comment, as did the DOD comptroller's office.

DJAS is the not the only joint system the military is trying to work into production status. The armed services are trying to change their payroll and personnel practices — without altering the software — in fielding the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System, which will feature PeopleSoft Inc.'s Human Resources product, said Air Force Col. Lawrence Sweeney, joint program manager for DIMHRS in New Orleans.

The Naval Sea Systems Command in March awarded a $6.5 million contract to PeopleSoft to deliver a version of its human resources enterprise application to DIMHRS by March 2002.

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