More than half of officers receive top choice in first ATAP cycle

By Sean Kimmons, Army News ServiceJanuary 28, 2020

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Capt. Shawn Pierce accepts the guidon during a company change of command ceremony June 7, 2019, on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall's Summerall Field. The latest assignment cycle for the Army Talent Alignment Process saw nearly all eligible officers an... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON -- The first assignment cycle for the Army Talent Alignment Process saw nearly all eligible officers and units participate, while orders are now beginning to be released one week ahead of schedule, the Army's human resources chief said.

The assignment cycle, which was for positions this summer, had a surge of participation after the previous cycle garnered less than 60%.

The figures showed that 95% of the more than 14,000 active-duty officers put preferences down for their next position, while 98% of units placed preferences for their vacancies.

"This increased two-way participation resulted in more than 55% of officers receiving their first-choice assignment and more than 80% of the officers receiving an assignment from their top 10% of preferenced jobs," said Maj. Gen. Joe Calloway, commander of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command.

Of those numbers, 47% of assignments had one-to-one matches, meaning the officer and the unit made one another their top preference.

"We believe this collaborative and transparent process will ultimately enhance job satisfaction, improve readiness and help us retain a larger portion of the human talent that is critical to our Army in the years ahead," Calloway said.

About 67% of officers and 66% of units also received one of their top three choices, according to Army G-1 officials.

The next cycle starts in April for moves that will occur next winter.

"The results of the first execution of the ATAP represent a significant step forward in establishing a new assignment system for U.S. Army officers," said Maj. Gen. J.P. McGee, director of the Army Talent Management Task Force.

"Thanks to the great partnership between the Army Talent Management Task Force and Human Resources Command," he added, "we demonstrated that we can take the preference of officers and establish a system that still provides units across the globe with the right level of talent to accomplish their mission."

ATAP -- a decentralized, regulated, market-style hiring system -- aligns officers and units using the Assignment Interactive Module, or AIM 2.0, which allows officers to build professional resumes highlighting their unique knowledge, skills, behaviors, and preferences.

Similarly, units can find and preference officers whose talents align with their unique requirements. The module then aligns officers against those jobs, maximizing officer and unit preference while keeping Army readiness at the forefront, officials said.

As a result of potential changes to force structure, some slated assignments could be impacted and create unforecasted manning shortages in units.

"We acknowledge that emerging requirements and structural changes could change some officer and unit matches in order to meet Army requirements," Calloway said. "However, U.S. Army Human Resources Command will continually seek to meet these requirements while honoring officer and unit preferences/readiness to the maximum extent possible."

In the latest cycle, the HRC's AIM Integration Team supported officers and units as they interacted within the AIM 2.0 portal. The team conducted 80 training sessions with about 4,200 officers and also responded to over 2,500 emails from the field, officials said.

The modernized process is part of the Army's push away from an industrial age personnel system to a 21st-century talent management approach.

The AIM 2.0 portal will eventually bridge into the Integrated Personnel and Pay System, or IPPS-A, that will include all three components in an effort to manage talent across the total force.

When fully deployed, IPPS-A, which is now live in half of Army National Guard states and territories, will have a 25-point talent profile to provide a holistic look at Soldiers.

In that profile, IPPS-A will track civilian and military education, awards, self-professed attributes, personal goals, civilian work experience, and preferences, among other variables.

IPPS-A is expected to be fielded to all three components by December 2021.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, who has promoted a people-first priority, believes the system is key to recognizing the talents and preferences of every individual Soldier.

During a speech in October, he jokingly said it was "almost blasphemous" to think the Army would actually consider someone's preferences.

"But, if we know where they want to go and what they want to do," he said, "we believe we can get the right person in the right job at the right time and we will have a better Army that is more committed.

"When our people are treated this way, we know they perform better, stay longer, and they will make our Army stronger."

The success seen in ATAP's first assignment cycle, though, is just a step in the right direction, Calloway said.

"While we are pleased with the outcomes from this manning cycle, we acknowledge that there is still much work ahead," he said. "We will continue to work with Army senior leadership, as well as officers and commanders in the field, to improve our talent management policies and processes."

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