WASHINGTON -- The Army is moving away from its industrial age pay and personnel system that only sees rank and branch, and is transitioning to a talent management-based approach, said Brig. Gen. Joseph P. McGee.

McGee, director of the Army Talent Management Task Force, spoke at the Association of the U.S. Army's Annual Meeting and Exposition, Oct. 10.

Initial efforts have focused on active-duty officer assignments, he said. By the end of this year, all officers will be enrolled in a web-based, talent management portal known as Assignment Interactive Module version 2, or AIM 2.0, upon entering the Army.

AIM 2.0's matrix includes the officer's knowledge, skills and preferences, which matches the officer with the needs and desires of units where he or she are eligible to serve, he said.

Maj. Gen. Jason T. Evans, commander of U.S. Army Human Resources Command, said AIM 2.0 is a "marketplace that allows both officers and units to advertise themselves, express their preferences, and interact with one another in order to shape both parties' interests to increase satisfaction and meet requirements.

"The portal greatly increases information about an officer through a resume that offers relevant information not otherwise contained within the traditional officer record brief," he continued. "Similarly, units are able to share detailed information about each of the jobs in the marketplace. This increased transparency and knowledge facilitates the assignment of uniquely talented officers to units with specific requirements."

IPPS-A

However, Evans said AIM 2.0 is not the final product, but is rather a bridge to the Army's premier talent management system, known as the Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army, which will eventually replace it.

Col. Greg Johnson, chief of the IPPS-A Functional Management Division, said there are several planned releases of IPPS-A, and it currently is in the final testing of release number two. The Pennsylvania Army National Guard is involved in the testing at this time.

By 2020, the goal is to have IPPS-A at full operating capability Army-wide, for all components, officers and enlisted, he said, adding that getting there will be very challenging because of all the databases that have to be merged. "It's an IT challenge."

Johnson put up a slide that shows the 25 variables that go into IPPS-A. They are:

1. Civilian education
2. Accessions data
3. Military education
4. Self-professed knowledge
5. Thesis and capstone
6. Awards, badges, tabs and other decorations
7. Professional licenses, certificates and skills
8. Self-professed attributes
9. Languages and level of proficiency in each
10. Additional duties
11. Personal goals, passions and achievements
12. Endorsements, references and social network statuses
13. Previous succession planning
14. Writing sample and assessments
15. Unit climate survey/peer assessments
16. Cultural experience and proficiency
17. Deployments and exercises
18. Military work experience
19. Civilian work experience
20. Manner of performance (evaluations and performance metrics)
21. Personal readiness
22. Photo
23. Restrictions
24. Qualification scores
25. Soldier preferences

McGee said IPPS-A is not just about finding the next Gen. George Marshall or Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, it's also about finding the best logistician or Signal Corps Soldier. The Army's got talent, it just needs to find it so everyone can contribute to make the Army even better than it is, he said.

Evans pointed out that the rollout of IPPS-A doesn't mean that every Soldier will get his or her preferences. Rather, there will have to be a balance between preferences, talent and the needs of the Army. "There will always be a tension to balance that."

FLEXIBLE AUTHORITIES

McGee said his task force is also exploring ways to incorporate nine new authorities granted to the Army by Congress in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, specifically, amendments to the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act and Reserve Officer Personnel Management Act.

One authority the Army now has is direct commissioning up to the rank of colonel, he said. So far, the Army has used it sparingly, mainly for junior officers in cyber. However, it could be expanded to other fields like logistics.

In the area of cyber, there are some select specialties that take years to master, he said. For instance, a capability tools developer is a very unique and specialized skill set, much in demand in technical fields. "They craft the ammunition on how you conduct cyber mission."

McGee said he could envision such a developer getting direct commissioned to the rank of colonel and being put in charge of a capabilities team.

Much less likely would be direct commissioning someone to be a maneuver commander, he said. It just won't happen.

This new granting of authority probably hasn't occurred since World War II, he added.

Another authority granted has been to extend an officer or noncommissioned officer's career timeline from 30 years to 40, at the discretion of the secretary of the Army, he said. That would allow more time for such things as broadening assignments or allowing someone with a unique skill to remain in the Army.

An interesting authority being explored by the Army is to allow officers to opt out of promotion boards, he said.

Opting out would remove the officer from the "conveyor belt" system that rapidly moves them through traditional year-group career pathways, he said.

For example, a captain might want to opt out so that he can gain more leadership time as a Ranger company commander, or he might want to seek a broadening assignment only available to captains.

Opting out would have to benefit the needs of the Army as well as the desires of the Soldier, he said. That Soldier who opts out would not be penalized for future promotion opportunities.

McGee cautioned that officers can't just opt out on their own if their performance is substandard.

Also, policies for opting out are not yet in place. There are pros and cons to opting out and year-group management, he said.