Army delays HR system

An Army effort to consolidate 43 personnel databases into one Web-based "electronic military personnel office" is being delayed because of problems migrating data into the new system, according to Army Personnel Command (Perscom) officials.

The $9.5 million eMILPO system is designed to provide near-real-time visibility on staff information throughout the Army via a Web-based application.

It was originally scheduled to go online early this month, but was delayed after an Army fielding team discovered errors from data transactions and other problems associated with migrating 43 super-server databases to the eMILPO test database, said Col. Gina Farrisee, the Army's adjutant general.

The original plan was to turn off in early January the 43 servers currently being used, but "waiting 60 more days is the right thing to do," Farrisee said.

"We took a lot of risk with a compressed timeline to field eMILPO," said Col. William Mansell, deputy to the adjutant general at Perscom. "The key problem was data migration. We wanted to do it in a test before production, and there were a number of unanticipated problems found. The good news is we found them. The bad news is that there [is] not sufficient time" to field the system this month.

The Army used an unconventional development and testing schedule for eMILPO, using three series of tests. The second series of tests was completed in October 2002. That left time to "reload and make corrections," but the transition from the third series last November did not go as planned, he said.

"It became clear that the problems were insurmountable," so officials decided early last month to delay fielding eMILPO until at least early March, Mansell said.

"Our promise is that you will not need to re-enter data," Farrisee said in a recent note to personnel leaders.

Division and Army Corps strength managers at several installations are helping with eMILPO to ensure that it provides the query capability needed in the field to incorporate important personnel management information. Systems integrators are also fine-tuning the system to include the "enlisted records brief," which is an abbreviated summary of a soldier's personnel data.

The 60-day delay costs the Army nothing, with the "additional time and effort being absorbed by the contracting organization [EDS] and the program manager's office," Mansell said. He added that no single group is responsible. An incredibly compressed timeline and complex applications caused the delay.

"It was high risk from the very beginning," he said. "We hoped to pull it off, but we couldn't. Soldiers in the field deserve the best system we can give them."

EDS officials declined to comment and referred all questions to the Army.

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Army leads DOD

The eMILPO system is an interim step toward the Defense Department's multiservice, integrated personnel and pay management system, known as the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System. The Army is scheduled to be the first service to implement DIMHRS, during the fourth quarter of 2004.

Navy Capt. Valerie Carpenter, DIMHRS Joint Program manager, said her office is planning to exercise a contract option in June for one of the five contractors currently competing for the program award. Carpenter said that the "delay of eMILPO does not negatively affect the development or deployment of DIMHRS."

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