WASHINGTON — As the Army plans for a spring rollout of its new automated system for Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) participants, the Army’s leader in charge of Enterprise EFMP (E-EFMP) shared a few insights on what Families can expect—and how this groundbreaking system came to be.
Senior Executive Christopher Thomas, director of Information Technology for the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-9 (DCS, G-9) gave a preview of the many benefits E-EFMP will offer.
E-EFMP will be available via website or Android /iPhone app and will offer many features to save Families time and aggravation, Thomas noted.
Key among those: Once a member fills out an electronic form, that data is saved in the cloud, available to the participant and all future commands throughout their time with the Army.
“Once they apply to the program, a case file is developed, which will follow this person throughout their career,” Thomas explained. “So they won’t have to reenter the same data for each new relocation.
“In fact, they may not ever have to update anything, unless the participant’s information changes,” he added. Their information will follow them throughout their career, no matter the location.”
Nor is access to the information limited by time. “They can access this information 24/7, 365 days a year, from anywhere in the world, as long as they have internet access,” Thomas said.
In addition, Family members will no longer be hampered by manual processes. In the new E-EFMP, they can sign documents digitally and use strong authentication, eliminating long trips to military facilities to turn in paperwork.
The information will flow in both directions, Thomas noted. To help Families prepare for a PCS move, E-EFMP will link with the Army’s assignment process through the Transportation Coordinators – Automated Information for Movements System II (TC-AIMS II). This allows members to research providers across all Army installations before they accept any new assignments.
E-EFMP will enable members to see a list of Defense Health Agency-registered healthcare providers either on a Military Treatment Facility or in the community around every Army installation.
This includes joint bases, he said. “If the Army is located there, it’s on our list.”
Eventually E-EFMP will link to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and the Army’s Integrated Personnel and Pay System-Army (IPPS-A), he noted.
To keep users’ health data secure, E-EFMP was created in accordance with Impact Level-5 (IL-5) standards. This ensures Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and other privacy information is protected, Thomas said. User access to E-EFMP will be protected through strong multi-factor authentication and will be housed in the Army’s Enterprise Cloud Environment (cARMY).
Thomas noted current EFMP data at major Army and DoD commands will automatically be migrated to the new E-EFMP system. Families won’t need to do anything to make this happen, he said.
Although E-EFMP is a key initiative promoted by DCS, G-9 Lt. Gen. Jason T. Evans, its genesis was about two years ago, Thomas said.
At that time, the Army realized different commands were using different back-end processes, and systems, and none were talking to each other. “I starting looking and realized we had three major commands conducting their own separate standalone operations,” he recalled.
“Are the commands talking to each other in an enterprise capability? No. What was on front end for the Family members to see? Nothing; there was no front end dashboard,” he said.
In addition, Family members were doing everything manually, “with no auditing or automation capability whatsoever.”
To address the frustrations of EFMP Families and meet Evans’ intent, “I wanted to put in a Family member dashboard, automate stove piped manual processes, and incorporate an Army enterprise cloud-based solution that integrates back end processes across all Army stakeholder organizations,” Thomas explained.
In developing E-EFMP, the challenge wasn’t the technology.
“That was the easy part,” he said. “The biggest challenge was getting the Army organizations to understand the change that was happening and to embrace that change.”
Although senior leaders embraced the change right away, he said, buy-in among mid-level and junior employees came afterward when DCS, G-9 showed that through agile development, it could easily add new requirements based on what stakeholders needed.
Thomas noted that EFMP participants can “test drive” the E-EFMP system and offer feedback to the developers and program managers by going to this site: https://osysarmyreview.bamtech.net/enterpriseefmp
But there’s nothing Families need to do now, he noted—other than get ready for a much easier, more convenient way of managing their EFMP needs.
“The goal was we had to make this easy for the family members. The burden should be on the back end guys to do the job.”