Navy officials said this week that they are making a meaningful dent in addressing pay and paperwork backlogs that have plagued sailors across the fleet in recent years.
Those problems have included a glacial pace for processing separation and retirement paperwork.
But last week, the Navy hit a milestone in its ongoing effort to alleviate that backlog.
As of Friday, the Navy had cleared its backlog of sailors who separated before Sept. 30 and were still waiting on their DD-214.
A DD-214 summarizes a service member’s military career and is vital for attaining veterans’ benefits and transitioning into the civilian world.
This summer, officials said they were grappling with a backlog of more than 4,200 separation and retirement transactions, leaving sailors to approach their departure date without the appropriate paperwork squared away.
That retirement backlog this summer included not only finalized DD-214s, but final evaluations and medical screenings as well, according to officials.
The Navy is now working to finish DD-214s for sailors scheduled to separate this month, with roughly 700 such transactions remaining as of this week, according to Cmdr. Rick Chernitzer, a spokesman for Navy Personnel Command.
“We have made significant improvement with regard to separation and retirement transactions,” he said in an email Monday.
With the Navy now meeting the Defense Department standard to issue DD-214s to sailors before they separate, the service is moving toward getting departing sailors their DD-214s before they head into terminal leave, a goal they hope to hit by year’s end, Chernitzer said.
Sailors still need to get their paperwork in 60 days before the start of their terminal leave, he said.
Former sailors still needing their DD-214 can reach out to the MyNavy Career Center at 833-330-6622 (MNCC) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The record will be sent through the Defense Department’s Secure Access File Exchange, or SAFE, system.
When it comes to the Navy’s backlog of permanent change of station, or PCS, travel claims, there are currently about 2,900 claims that are beyond the Pentagon’s mandated 30-day processing period, Chernitzer said.
That’s down slightly from this summer, when officials said there were nearly 3,500 PCS transactions that had been filed more than 30 days earlier.
Once that PCS backlog is completed, the Navy will set a new standard to get all PCS claims processed within 14 days, Chernitzer said.
Among the cornerstones of the plan announced this summer is that, by Dec. 31, sailors will receive pay and entitlements within 14 days of becoming eligible.
The plan also calls for more ground-level training so that commands have go-to people who can solve pressing pay and paperwork problems.
Some of the pay and paperwork issues today trace back to the Navy’s efforts to modernize its diffuse and old HR systems.
Those revamps to Navy HR, known as Navy Personnel and Pay, or NP2, have been plagued by a variety of issues as the service tries to transition and streamline old legacy HR systems that oversee sailor pay, benefits and other vital areas.
“The Navy’s HR enterprise processes and operations have not fundamentally evolved over the last 70 years, resulting in an ad hoc system design and approach across the enterprise,” Chief of Naval Personnel spokeswoman, Capt. Jodie Cornell, said in an email to Navy Times. “We have been managing our force with 55 aging Information Technology systems, some of which are over 30 years old.”
While leaders envision NP2 as providing a one-stop shop for all sailor pay and paperwork needs, Cornell said in an email that MyNavy HR is focused on an “orderly transition.”
“While we are eager to introduce the new capabilities of NP2, we will always err on the side of caution over introducing a system that is not thoroughly proven to properly process pay, benefits and other entitlements for Sailors throughout the Fleet,” she said.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at email@example.com.