By Devon L. Suits, Army News ServiceFebruary 12, 2020
WASHINGTON -- Improvements to the Assignment Interactive Module known as AIM 2.0 will ensure an even better user experience before the next assignment cycle, leaders said Thursday.
"It is an incredibly exciting time to be in the Army," said Lt. Gen. Thomas Seamands, deputy chief of staff, G-1. "The leadership we have is aligned to make the Army as best as it can be."
The Army People Strategy, which includes the Army's talent alignment efforts, provides an opportunity to resource and embed programs to "attract, acquire, develop, employ and retain" Soldiers, families and civilians, said Seamands during a media roundtable at the Pentagon.
The Army Talent Alignment Process, or ATAP's regulated, market-style assignment system, AIM 2.0 for officers, is scheduled to open again in March, said Maj. Gen. Joseph Calloway, commander of Army Human Resources Command.
Close to 4,500 officers will go through the process of selecting their next assignment before their permanent change of station at the end of 2020 and into 2021.
System latency was just one of the core issues identified by users, Calloway said. The sheer volume of users -- approximately 15,000 officers -- on the system attributed to ATAP's slower performance. Officials are looking for ways to improve the system.
In addition to latency, officers and units requested additional filtering options to refine details on officers and positions in the market.
For example, Calloway said, captains are not qualified for an observer-controller assignment at the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, California, if they have not yet completed their required key developmental assignment -- usually company command -- that provides the necessary underlying experience.
With AIM 2.0's new filtering options, officers will find it easier to sift through the assignment marketplace, or even filter out assignments that don't match their qualifications, Calloway said.
"On the other side, you are the commander, and ... you're trying to find the right person [for] your formation," he said. "What we're going to do is make the tool more user friendly -- on both sides."
Behind the scenes, officials are working to incorporate more data parameters into the AIM 2.0 program to shore up an assignment-mismatch issue.
"The Assignment Interactive Module 2.0 is the automated process that allows us to execute ATAP," Calloway said. ATAP provides the rules and guidelines "that drive the process … for how we execute the [assignment] markets."
During the recent market cycle using AIM 2.0, officials identified a minor error with the automated tool used during the assignment matching process.
The tool did not have "perfect information" and inadvertently assigned officers to jobs for which they were not qualified, Calloway explained. Officials are working to insert additional logic into the automated process to prevent the issue from reoccurring.
"Assignment officers on the back end corrected the problem. We would be putting the officer and the unit in an untenable position," Calloway added, if it wasn't corrected.
With the new assignment process, close to half of all officers got their first choice during this cycle, said Maj. Gen. J.P. McGee, director of the Army Talent Management Task Force.
To clarify, the term "first choice" is not necessarily tied to an officer's "dream list" of assignments, McGee explained. The first choice refers to a one-to-one match an officer receives with a unit during the assignment process.
"What we see in places that are traditionally hard to fill … they are getting good results," McGee said. "Commanders are embracing this authority and using it as an opportunity to express their preference for [a specific] officer. So, preferences go both ways. Officers like being preferred by a unit."
HRC also ran a post-market analysis to ensure there were no "anomalies" within the talent alignment process, Calloway said. Officials were looking for an unequal distribution of Soldiers based on their performance, diversity, or gender.
"They ran a pretty thorough analysis, and we were … positively surprised," he said. "The spread of both performance and talent, and diversity, stayed consistent with the historical norm."
Overall, units and officers that found success with ATAP were active on the system, McGee said. In the coming months, HRC will start releasing orders, which will include a satisfaction survey to help gather more information about each Soldier's assignment experience.
ATAP is meant to be additive, not a distraction, Seamands said.
"The last thing I want to do is create a system where everybody is walking around with their phone all day long, checking to see how they are doing in the market. Or a unit is spending all their time [on ATAP] instead of at the range," Seamands said.
Familiarity with the system, coupled with constant user feedback, will continue to improve the program, he added.
"It is critical that we have the right talent management systems to optimize the Army's talent. We need to make sure that everybody can be the best version of themselves, and fit in with a unit to help build readiness across our force," he said.