COVID-19 “necessitates” unlocking IPPS-A’s “full capabilities”
U.S. Soldiers with the 756th Transportation Company Detachment, 746th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, California Army National Guard, build frozen-food kits on a conveyor at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank in Vernon, California, May 11, 2020. A detail of 15 Soldiers were reassigned to the Vernon facility to assist with building frozen-food kits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo Credit: Courtesy U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

ARLINGTON, Va. ꟷ U.S. Army G-1 has been able to leverage a new product - the Integrated Personnel and Pay System - Army (IPPS-A) - to track Army National Guard units mobilized in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Putting so many ARNG Soldiers on State Active Duty required a change in Army policy and more accountability and reporting to Pentagon leaders. IPPS-A’s new features proved an ideal, modern solution.

“What we did was unlock IPPS-A’s already existing innovative capabilities and made sure that Human Resources Soldiers in the Army National Guard had flexibility to maneuver and update the statuses of their Soldiers,” said Maj. Lee Baklarz, IPPS-A Release 2 Sustainment Lead. “They needed to be able to report duty statuses to the Army using IPPS-A instead of using something like an excel spreadsheet that required tedious additional data entry”

Many ARNG Soldiers activated for COVID-19 are on what’s called Title 32 status. Title 32 is a designation for Guard Soldiers funded by the federal government, but with state governors and state Adjutants General controlling the missions.

The start of the Title 32 status in early April allowed for more Soldiers to be activated due to an increase in available funds, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Anderson, California Army National Guard HR Systems Branch Chief.

The Calif. ARNG has activated over 1,000 Soldiers to support the state’s COVID-19 response effort. The main focus has been to stand up medical strike teams and support local food banks who lost most of their volunteers due to stay-at-home orders.

“We started with the Title 32 status on April 1,” said Anderson. “Once the updates were made, we transferred those Soldiers to the new Title 32 status, and have since added additional Soldiers. Our ability to provide a larger response team is due to the federal funding. It gave us the ability to provide a more robust response.”

Over the last two months, the Calif. ARNG has provided over 30 million meals to Californians in need.

Part of the update to the State Active Duty Title 32 duty status was the creation of its own unique campaign identification code. This code allows HR professionals the ability to know, track and report the number of Soldiers in a Title 32 duty status in support of the COVID response across the National Guard.

“With IPPS-A, each state is working in the same system using the unique campaign identification codes,” said Anderson. “It’s easier to separate Soldiers on orders for COVID-19 versus other missions.”

Anderson is also impressed with the capability and effectiveness of the system during this time.

“That was the first real test we had seen of the benefit of an IPPS-A nationwide standardized system across the Guard,” said Anderson. “Everyone had to do these transactions the same way, and COVID-19 has provided that unique operational response so someone can get a national picture very quickly by each state and in the nation as a whole who were being activated for COVID-19.”

Once the Active and Reserve Components Soldiers are added to the system, Anderson believes having the entire Army on one HR system will be another positive.

“Everyone will be able to get a quick look at what your battlefield looks like,” said Anderson. “That can only benefit the Army.” (Story by Justin Creech, IPPS-A STRATCOM)