Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James (Mike Morones/Staff)
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Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James has made better communication with airmen one of her top priorities since taking her post in December.
While the Air Force has revamped the af.mil website to make it more user friendly for the airmen and the public, the service has put an increasing number of memos, directives and personnel news on the myPers portal, accessible only to those who possess a Common Access Card. Promotion lists and force management guidelines are among the items airmen can’t view without logging in with their CAC. And those items are inaccessible to members of the public, such as family members and the media.
James told reporters June 18 that most of the hidden information is “technical execution type things for the personnel world,” but she plans to look into what information is blocked from public view.
“I personally will go back and look at — I mean, I have the government access — and see what it is, and see if it’s something beyond that, because from what I understand it’s highly technical, ‘how to fill out the paperwork’ type stuff,” James said at a Defense Writers Group breakfast.
The myPers portal, launched in 2012, is intended to be a one-stop site for personnel information. It allows airmen to perform personnel transactions 24/7 and includes information on eligibility for involuntary and voluntary programs, military benefits and transition assistance.
Before myPers, the Air Force posted much of that information on the Personnel Center’s public website. Now information such as promotion lists, promotion cutoffs by specialty and other career news has been moved to myPers. Requests for that information and other nonsensitive personnel guidance must be channeled through Air Force public affairs.
The different methods of distributing information to airmen have caused confusion in recent months as the Air Force issued revisions to its force management plan unveiled in December. In some cases, the information was conveyed via email to major commands two days before public release. Personnel Service Delivery Memorandums have been posted on myPers and stamped “for official use only,” while news releases with incomplete information have been posted to the public website — with explanations of unclear information taking days or weeks to obtain.
James said during a May 13 editorial board with Air Force Times that she is working to improve communication on the force management plan. The service is now posting weekly updates to its public website. A separate force management button, while not inclusive of all personnel guidance, now offers updates on involuntary and voluntary programs, time in grade and time in service waivers and the number of applicants approved for early exits.