After an initial delay from its original December 2021 release date, the Army’s new master human resources platform remains on track for full implementation on Sept. 20, Army officials said.
The Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army had its launch for the active duty force postponed due to problems transferring data from legacy systems, which were revealed in tests last summer. An earlier version of IPPS-A is currently in use across the National Guard.
Senior leaders haven’t wavered in their commitment to the platform, consistently emphasizing that it is too important to fail due to its central role in the service’s data-driven talent management plans.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters in October that “we made the decision that it was better to delay the rollout of [IPPS-A] so that we can make absolutely sure that the system was going to work when it actually does go live.”
A spokesperson for the service’s personnel directorate, Maj. Angel Tomko, told Army Times in an emailed statement that the extra time has helped resolve many of the issues, and that “IPPS-A’s rigorous testing schedule is on track.”
The platform recently concluded a systems integration test and the systems acceptance tests that tripped it up last summer, Tomko said. Army leaders are reviewing the results before the final stage of testing — a limited user test — begins next month.
“Army leaders are committed to delivering a quality product, which means thoroughly testing to ensure...[IPPS-A] is deployed to the force successfully,” said Tomko, adding that the limited user test is scheduled to last eight weeks.
What will IPPS-A do when implemented?
Army leaders have promised that IPPS-A will launch a fundamental transformation of the service’s HR processes and workflows.
Basic personnel requests like leave forms, award recommendations, reassignments and more will be actioned through the platform, and soldiers will be able to track their requests and see what level of approval they’re at during any step of the process. Troops will also be able to submit those requests themselves, and the site has self-service training available to coach them through the process.
Tomko emphasized the “transparency” that IPPS-A offers for personnel action requests, which doesn’t currently exist in a standardized fashion for many unit workflows.
Part of the platform’s capabilities are already here for the National Guard, which has been operating under a previous release of IPPS-A since early 2020.
But September’s release will bring the Regular Army and Army Reserve onto IPPS-A, too. That will mark the first time all three components will have the same HR platform, which will facilitate cross-component actions, Army officials say. Using one HR platform will also allow HR professionals to seamlessly take their expertise between components when mobilizing or leaving active duty.
The updated version of IPPS-A will also add pay actions, which will allow units to electronically initiate special and other pays locally rather than depending on an installation finance office.
The implementation period will be tricky for HR professionals, though, as the Army takes old systems offline while trying to maintain baseline operations.
To ease that process, Tomko and IPPS-A officials are asking soldiers to “PMCS Your Records” in order to “verify that personnel information is correct in current systems” before the platform goes live in the fall.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.