Army Delays New One-Stop Personnel and Pay System After Year of Tech Headaches

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Pennsylvania Army National Guard soldiers conduct testing on the Army’s IPPS-A
Pennsylvania Army National Guard soldiers conduct testing on the Army’s new Integrated Personnel and Pay System Army (IPPS-A) at Fort Indiantown Gap Jan. 10, 2019. (Shane Smith/Pennsylvania National Guard)

The Army is delaying the rollout of its much-anticipated Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army, or IPPS-A, until 2022 following a year of technical snafus with its online tools.

The system is intended to be a one-stop shop for soldiers and the new standard for the Army's backend information technology, or IT, systems that manage personnel records such as pay and awards.

A force-wide launch was slated in December after a trial period with the National Guard. However, the system is still plagued with bugs and won't be ready, the Army said this week.

"We're looking at a nine-month delay," Roy Wallace, assistant deputy chief of staff for personnel at Army G1, told Military.com in an interview. "It takes a lot of collaboration between IPPS-A and the other systems."

The announced delay comes after Military.com reported in September that the IPPS-A launch was expected to cause issues with moves for up to 18,000 soldiers and their families through the holidays. The halt in moves was expected to be a side effect of the backend systems changing.

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Wallace said IPPS-A is about 80% complete, but fine-tuning is going to take time. He added that Gen. James McConville, the Army chief of staff, doesn't want to risk a rocky launch, given how integral IPPS-A will be to the force.

"His guidance to us is that [when] we field it, that it will be right," Wallace said.

Under the new system, troops will be able to conduct simple tasks, such as requesting leave, electronically. It also will be a tool for commanders to organize their formations and track individual soldiers' special qualifications and talents.

The Army still is reeling from the botched performance of an unrelated online service built by Deloitte, ArmyIgnitED, which was broken for most of the year. It is used by some 100,000 soldiers to access college tuition benefits.

The problems with that system forced at least 20,000 soldiers to pay out of pocket for school and risk going into debt. The system was broken for months, causing bedlam across the force and drawing the ire of Congress, until Army leaders held a press conference in June to address complaints.

ArmyIgnitED is mostly fixed, but issues remain with employees at universities who are not familiar with the new system, causing headaches for some students. However, most have been reimbursed for their out-of-pocket expenses.

Until IPPS-A launches force-wide next year, soldiers will conduct business as usual. The delay should not interfere with any existing online tools, officials said.

Col. Rebecca Eggers, chief of the functional management division for IPPS-A, told Military.com there's no reason to believe IPPS-A has structural issues, especially after an initial test of the program with the National Guard.

"What we've seen works. We don't have any reason to believe the software that we have should not work," Eggers said. "It was proven to be a good system."

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

Related: Army Promises to Reimburse Soldiers Affected by Broken Tuition Assistance Website

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