DIMHRS does data calls

The Defense Integrated Military Human Resources Systems (DIMHRS) passed the critical design review last year and is now headed into the development phase. The multimillion-dollar program is crucial to the military's initiative to modernize its business processes and systems.

Northrop Grumman demonstrated that products from Oracle PeopleSoft -- the two companies recently merged -- could work for DIMHRS Nov. 4, 2004, at the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command's Systems Center in New Orleans. The company went through 37 scenarios in which the commercial software covered a warfighter from enlistment and commission to retirement, said Navy Capt. Valerie Carpenter, the system's joint program manager.

The Joint Requirements and Integration Office, part of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, concurred with Carpenter's approval of DIMHRS' design in November 2004 but identified eight technical issues that were resolved by February. One involved improving how the system handles warfighters recalled to duty, said Carpenter, who said she will retire from the Navy in July.

Northrop Grumman officials found commercial software they could add to Oracle PeopleSoft products to better manage what the military calls mass updates. Oracle PeopleSoft officials now may make the software part of the company's product because of how well it worked in DIMHRS, Carpenter said.

Military work is "complicated by the fact that members go back and forth among the components -- active, Reserve and Guard -- and, of course, deploy in the theater," said Norma St. Claire, director of joint requirements and integration for the undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness.

DOD awarded a $281 million contract in 2003 to Northrop Grumman to develop and implement the world's largest human resources system using Oracle PeopleSoft applications for the military's 2.3 million uniformed members. DIMHRS will replace 78 existing personnel and pay systems across the four services with a Web-based system to save money and provide greater accountability and accessibility. The system will give commanders the data necessary to decide warfighters' job assignments and to better flow information through the department's financial management systems. "The department's received bad press on people not getting paid," Carpenter said. "When DIMHRS goes live, it must pay warfighters correctly the first time. This is a big driver for us."

DIMHRS currently uses Oracle PeopleSoft 8.8 and will soon transition to Version 8.9 in building the system's database. Army systems now feed it with personnel information, for example, from the time soldiers enter the service through their retirement.

Army officials requested and received permission to be the first service to connect to the new system. They need to replace the Army's aging human resources systems, and they hope DIMHRS will help the service's ongoing efforts to transform into a light, rapidly deployable force, Carpenter said.

She declined to give specifics on DIMHRS' schedule, saying that new funding and integration issues may cause the system to become operational one year late, in 2008 instead of 2007. Two months of the delay resulted from program officials' pushing back the design review to meet with military officials to explain how the project works, to build confidence and to get approval for the system.

Carpenter said DOD will soon send an updated funding request to Congress because the system did not get the development money it needed for 2006. She also said program officials found new system interface problems between DIMHRS and existing military pay and personnel systems that resulted from maintenance done to the existing systems. "They have to continue to do business," Carpenter said. "They've changed. We need to change." Northrop Grumman officials deferred comment on DIMHRS to the Navy.

Despite the one-year program delay and a February report from the Government Accountability Office that called for strengthening the program's requirements-management processes and adopting an integrated approach to program management, she said she likes the progress made on DIMHRS.

"At one time I felt we were in analysis paralysis," Carpenter said. "We now have approval of the design. We're getting personnel information from the Army. We're not where we'd hope to be. But we're now moving the program forward."

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