ARLINGTON, Va. -- The implementation of the Integrated Personnel and Pay System- Army (IPPS-A) is transforming the Human Resource career field. Not only does IPPS-A subsume decades-old legacy systems, but it also adds additional military pay responsibilities to Army human resources (HR) Soldiers and civilians.
Active Duty HR professionals are currently training in the fundamentals of Army finance in advance of the fielding of IPPS-A to the Active and Reserve Components in late 2021. To help with this transition, Soldiers from U.S. Army Human Resource Command (HRC) assigned to Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) have been conducting financial fundamentals training at several active duty installations.
IPPS-A Senior Enlisted Advisor, Sgt. Maj. Stephanie Owens visited DFAS October 29, 2019 to learn what DFAS Soldiers are doing to help the active Army's HR professionals with this vital learning curve.
"They're preparing us for IPPS-A," said Sgt. Maj. Owens. "As HR professionals, we don't know finance processes. If a Soldier comes to us and says - 'I'm supposed to get this entitlement when I PCS' - we need to know how to get that Soldier what they're owed."
The four day course is led by one DFAS 42A HR Specialist and one 36B Financial Management Technician. The training covers core financial responsibilities like entitlements, allotments, permanent change of station, special incentives pay, the military savings program and even funded orders for reserve Soldiers with active-duty units.
The course begins with a pre-test designed to gauge the attendees finance knowledge.
So far, over 500 personnel across the active Army, Army Reserve and the Army's civilian personnel have taken the training.
"This training is what the name implies," said Maj. Anthony Weilbacher, IPPS-A pay and Integration Officer. "It's just the fundamentals of military pay required for an HR professional to know what HR actions impact pay. The curriculum covers being able to research regulations and understanding how allotments and taxes work."
Prior to IPPS-A, if Soldiers had questions about finance they would go to a finance office that is separate from their unit. This often caused delays for Soldiers in getting their situation, and pay, resolved.
Once IPPS-A fields to all three components, Soldiers will no longer need to go outside of their units to get answers to finance issues, said Maj. Weilbacher.
"The intent is to give this information to HR professionals and now the member can go to their S1 or servicing HR office," said Weilbacher. "They no longer have to go to a separate finance office."
DFAS teams have traveled to 21 locations since the inaugural course in August 2019.
An example of the success of the course to date is the improvement in results from the pre-test to post-test. Post-test scores are double that of the pre-test scores.
Sgt. Maj. Gary Krese, HRC Military Pay branch Sergeant Major is excited about how enthusiastic the HR pros are about learning this new information.
"You can tell as the class goes on the HR pros understand the magnitude of what they're learning," said Krese. "They understand why it's important for them to learn finance fundamentals."
Krese added as an HR professional himself it's very exciting to have even a small part in helping the Army transform its Human Resources practices to 21st century standards.
"I look forward to seeing the future and how the force transforms," said Krese. "It's rewarding to get the word across that HR professionals need to own MilPay. When the switch flips it's game time and the Soldiers we service don't want to hear 'I don't know, I don't understand.' They're going to have the expectation that the HR professional can solve their issues. So, I love the opportunity to have an impact on the future. It's once-in-a-lifetime."
Owens is pleased that HRC is leading Army-wide change by developing and deploying early training in recognition of the fundamental transition this change represents for HR Soldiers.
"This is huge because the one thing you don't want to do is mess up a Soldier's pay," said Owens. "If there's an error with a Soldier's pay you run the risk of them not being focused on work and we don't want that to happen. This is a very important transition."