Army officials announced Thursday afternoon that the service is delaying the expansion of its long-anticipated 21st century human resources platform, pushing the launch date from December of this year to September 2022.
Release 3 of the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army, which will put all three components of the Army onto the unified HR platform, failed a key system acceptance test due to data issues, senior personnel officials explained to Army Times. The test results led the Army to push the release date to ensure the program didn’t go to the field before it was ready.
The service’s senior leaders have hailed IPPS-A — which has been live for the entire National Guard since March 2020 — as a game-changer meant to increase transparency on personnel actions and help the Army eliminate an archipelago of isolated, outdated systems.
“We must make sure that IPPS-A is a thoroughly tested and high-quality product when delivered to Soldiers, HR professionals and leaders,” said Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, who oversees the Army’s service-wide personnel directorate. “We are fully committed to delivering IPPS-A across all three components, meeting the needs of our Soldiers and the Army of the future with a 21st century talent management system.”
IPPS-A is a centerpiece of the Army’s plans to introduce an influx of data into its talent management initiatives, the service said in a release explaining the delay. The platform will also host the assignment marketplaces, allowing soldiers to apply for jobs across the Army based on their talents and preferences.
“Soldiers will have near-real-time 24/7 access to their personnel records and will be able to electronically submit and track action requests, such as leave. Leaders will have visibility of over 1.1 million Soldiers across all three components in one system,” the release said. “IPPS-A will also introduce talent management capabilities, which will give Soldiers more control over their careers and allow leaders to better manage the talents of every Soldier.”
Once the platform is fully implemented, soldiers will be able to do things like request leave from the IPPS-A smartphone app, the Army has said. And they can track their requests the whole way up the chain of command.
Why the launch is delayed
In addition to the release, Army Times spoke with two of the senior leaders most intimately involved in the platform’s development in order to understand why they’ve delayed the launch. It comes down to the difficulty of establishing data transfers that will allow IPPS-A to subsume older HR systems.
“We ran into some data issues,” said Roy Wallace, assistant deputy chief of staff for the Army G-1. “It’s 80 percent functional right now, but additional time is required to get the other 20 percent working to a level so we can field [the program] to the soldiers out there.”
The Army made the decision to delay the program’s release after some troubles during its system acceptance test “where we bring in users from the field, and they actually get hands on the system,” explained Col. Rebecca Eggers, the IPPS-A Functional Management Division chief.
That test will occur again — and the program will have to pass a final limited user test in June 2022 — before the September 2022 go-live date.
During launch month, the Army plans to pause most permanent change of station moves, Eggers said, in order to reduce demand on the assignment system while taking old programs offline.
In spite of the delay, leaders want soldiers to understand that IPPS-A is still coming, though — they just want to make sure everything is good to go before sending it to the field.
A similar delay occurred when rolling out a previous version of IPPS-A to the Guard, Eggers said, but the program overcame the snags to have a successful launch. The Army Guard has also successfully deactivated SIDPERS, the 1980s-era system that IPPS-A replaced.
The delay will also allow more time for the active-duty force and the reserve to get up to speed on the program, Wallace said.
Most soldiers won’t notice the delay as the systems status quo continues, they added, but they should notice a change for the better once the platform comes fully into effect.
“The impact on the [average] soldier of the delay is very negligible is very negligible because the soldiers don’t use our personnel systems right now,” Eggers said. “[IPPS-A is] an enhancement, really.”
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.