DOD catches up with payroll glitch

After discovering a software code error in their military payroll system earlier this year, Defense Department officials deducted funds from the pay of 15,000 service members late last month to make up for incorrect tax deductions.

Defense Finance and Accounting Service officials deducted too little federal Social Security tax from the salaries of 15,000 Air Force, Army and Navy service members beginning in January 2001, said Catherine Ferguson, a DFAS spokeswoman.

The incorrect deductions, which employers make through the Federal Insurance Contribution Act, resulted from errors in the July 2000 software version of the Defense Joint Military Pay System Active Component, Ferguson said.

DFAS officials in Denver did not find the errors when they tested the DJMS-AC software releases, but an audit of pay accounts earlier this year discovered the FICA problems, Ferguson said. The Navy was the service most heavily affected, with 9,000 sailors' pay affected by the DJMS mistake, according to a DFAS press release.

DFAS officials have given DJMS modifications emergency status, Ferguson said.

About 8,100 service members owed less than $120 as a result of the mistake, which the agency deducted in the pay period ending in late May, according to DFAS. Service members who owe more will have amounts deducted in June, July and August, the announcement said.

DFAS owes money to about 150 service members as a result of DJMS deducting too much FICA tax, according to the DFAS release.

DJMS, which features one component for active duty personnel and another for reservists, is a DOD system that replaces 19 Air Force, Army and Navy payroll systems. The system has $27.9 million in fiscal 2001 funding, according to Federal Sources Inc., McLean, Va.

The Marine Corps shifted from three payroll systems to the Marine Corps Total Force System in 1994. The Marines don't have to use DJMS because their system has payroll and personnel components, according to an Office of the Secretary of Defense Web site.

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