DOD seeks pay, personnel system

DIMHRS draft request for proposal

Nearly a decade after the end of the Gulf War, some reservists must still haggle over their pay thanks in part to antiquated personnel and payroll systems that cannot share data with one another.

Just as troublesome is the fact that the Defense Department's personnel and payroll systems, made up of a hodgepodge of aging, separate systems, do not allow the Pentagon to effectively manage its personnel, which is increasingly important as the military moves toward joint warfighting missions.

DOD is hoping to change all that. Last month, officials posted a draft request for proposals for a massive system that would streamline pay and personnel systems for all uniformed service members.

The draft RFP seeks an integrator to implement the Defense Integrated Military Human Resource System (DIMHRS), which is expected to cost at least $500 million, according to Federal Sources Inc., a McLean, Va., market research firm. The system will be based on commercial software from PeopleSoft Inc.

"With an [enterprise resource planning] solution," said Navy Capt. Valerie Carpenter, DIMHRS program manager, "it is not uncommon to have a third party come in and look at your current business practices and make a determination about how you can utilize that solution."

The system, when fully deployed by the end of fiscal 2006, will provide an integrated personnel and payroll system for all military service members, Carpenter said. The system will not include DOD civilians at first.

When the system is complete, military leaders will have the DOD personnel data they need to make decisions about where to put skilled people. DIMHRS will also feed data into DOD's financial management systems, something that is currently difficult.

DIMHRS will replace 88 legacy systems across the four services and will save the department money, Carpenter said. "Everybody has a spaghetti chart of legacy databases," she said.

The Army will roll out the system first. Under the current schedule, the Army will have initial operational capability by the middle of fiscal 2004. Army systems represent about half of the legacy applications that DIMHRS will replace, said Paula Davis, the Army's DIMHRS program manager.

The Army has been in the process of cleaning up personnel and pay data, said Col. Kevin Troller, the Army's DIMHRS deputy program manager. Because information has been fed into disparate, unconnected databases, it is often unclear which data is the most current.

Meanwhile, the Army is also reviewing its current systems to determine which ones will need to be replaced. Some systems, such as those for training, will no longer need pay and personnel capabilities and will focus exclusively on training, Troller said.

The Army is also conducting a so-called fit/gap analysis that will assess differences between the new software and current DOD business rules to determine how much the services will need to change their business practices.

The fit/gap analysis will address "how much of the functionality is met by the [commercial off-the-shelf] product out of the box," Carpenter said. "What are the gaps? Is it something we can fix by changing our business practices" or does it have to be fixed with another commercial product? Only in extreme cases will DOD write new code, she said.

Carpenter and Davis said that the goal is to change DOD's business processes, not to make changes to the PeopleSoft software. "We are preparing the Army for this revolutionary change in how we do business," Davis said.

After the system is deployed by the Army, it will be rolled out to the Navy and Marine Corps and then the Air Force.

The Navy has been deploying the Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System, which will eventually replace four of its legacy personnel and pay systems and provide one system for active and reserve sailors. It will be fully interoperable with DIMHRS, Carpenter said.


Goals for the Defense Integrated Military Human Resource System include:

* Create a fully integrated pay and personnel system across the Defense Department.

* Provide service members with accurate, timely pay.

* Offer real-time access to complete benefit information.

* Enable service members to update personnel information themselves.

* Provide managers with pay and personnel data.

* Allow senior managers to manage personnel resources more effectively.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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