By W. Wayne MarlowApril 12, 2019
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Soldiers from First Army human resources personnel teams gathered here recently for an Adjutants General summit to stay informed about key changes in the Army human resources field.
The conference covered two crucial developments that will affect Soldiers at all levels in the total force: modernization of the personnel system and an increase to First Army staffing levels. Familiarity with these changes will benefit not only First Army, but also its deploying partners in the Reserve Component.
The four dozen attendees included Sgt. Andrea Barba, a human resources NCO with First Army. As a junior noncommissioned officer, Barba welcomed the chance to become a subject matter expert in a continually-evolving career field that has lasting consequences for Soldiers.
"Most AG officers, warrant officers and NCOs are very receptive to anything that we can take back in our tool bag and help give to the rest of the Adjutant General community, because our job is always changing," she said. "We have new challenges every day trying to figure out how to best help our Soldiers and make them successful at what they do. And in order for us to be successful, we have to help each other to move forward. This summit will really pay off in the long run."
Barba said a new system highlighted during the summit will help streamline human resources requirements. It is known as the Integrated Personnel and Pay System -- Army (IPPS-A), and she compared it to going to college and being able to take care of housing, financial aid, enrollment, and books in one setting. Launched this month, IPPS-A is an online human resources tool that provides integrated personnel, pay, and talent management capabilities in one system to the total force for the first time.
"The new program will be across the board for all Army components, and they will all be part of this one-stop shop system where we can conduct finance operations, we can conduct actions, can do evaluation reports, everything," Barba said.
Maj. Heather Deters, First Army personnel plans and operations officer, noted the system will benefit the total force through modernization.
"It's going to take all of the human resources systems -- National Guard, Reserve and Active Duty - and it's going to make it one system," Deters explained. "So as a Soldier, you would be able use your phone or your computer to do, for example, a name change request so you wouldn't have to go to your S1[human resources officer]. Then as HR professionals, we would review it, make sure it's correct and submit it. It's going to do that with personnel actions, promotions and pay. It's a big thing for the HR community."
IPPS-A will deliver visibility over the entire force to enhance Army readiness. It will improve access, timeliness and accuracy of personnel and pay information for the Total Army. This will be done by integrating more than 30 current systems, eliminating more than 300 interfaces, and ensuring secure, consistent processes and data.
Another key development addressed was a change in manning that will take First Army from having about 80 percent of its positions filled to 100 percent. This will create new challenges for First Army human resources professionals, according to Deters.
"As an HR professional, it's our job to do the math and try to figure out when this person is leaving and when we're going to need the new person in," she said. "It's pretty challenging, which is why it's important to get together to discuss the issues that we're having and how we can make things better and how G1 can help the process."
By equipping personnel Soldiers with such knowledge, the summit set them up for success, and by extension, will do the same for the rest of First Army and its partners in deploying units.