DOD Systems Modernization:
Maintaining Effective Communication Is Needed to Help Ensure the Army's Successful Deployment of the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System
GAO-08-927R: Published: Sep 8, 2008. Publicly Released: Sep 8, 2008.
The Department of Defense (DOD) has had long-standing, serious problems with its numerous military component-unique personnel and pay systems, including accurately paying its military personnel on time and monitoring and tracking them to, from, and within their duty stations. For example, in the early 1990s, Army Reserve and National Guard troops received inaccurate or late pay and benefits after serving in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. We previously reported that the lack of integration among DOD's multiple military personnel and pay systems, among other things, caused these and similar errors. To address these and other problems, in February 1998, DOD initiated a program to design and implement the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS). DIMHRS is intended to provide a joint, integrated, standardized personnel and pay system for all military components (including active and reserve components). In November 2004, DOD accepted the design of the first phase of DIMHRS for personnel and pay functions and then proceeded with development of the system. Meanwhile, as we reported in 2006, some Army Reserve and National Guard troops continued to receive inaccurate pay resulting in part from a lack of integration in Army personnel and pay systems. Furthermore, personnel and pay problems have been exacerbated by the hundreds of thousands of military personnel deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, whose families depend on receiving accurate and timely pay, in addition to DOD's need to track military personnel in and out of theater. DOD is concurrently working with the Army, Air Force, and Navy, but the Army is to be the first to deploy DIMHRS. Therefore, we focused our review on DOD's plans to deliver the system to the Army for deployment. DOD has planned five DIMHRS deployment dates for the Army with the most recent one scheduled in March 2009. Four of the deployment dates were postponed--April 2006, April 2008, July 2008, and October 2008. As of April 2008, DOD moved the October date to March 2009. DIMHRS uses software referred to as a commercial-off-the-shelf product. According to DIMHRS program officials, including the Deputy Director of the Business Transformation Agency, the product will address all military component requirements. In February 2005, we reported that because DOD was not managing the DIMHRS program effectively, including its requirements, it was at increased risk of not delivering promised system capabilities and benefits on time. Since our 2005 report, we have monitored DOD's progress in managing the DIMHRS program under the authority of the Comptroller General to conduct evaluations on his own initiative. Specifically for this report, our objective was to determine to what extent DOD has effectively communicated the DIMHRS's capabilities to the Army in order for the Army to prepare for deployment of the system in March 2009.
DOD has taken some recent steps to improve communications with the Army about DIMHRS's capabilities in an effort to better prepare the Army for deployment of the system in March 2009. However, Army officials still have some concerns about the extent to which Army requirements are being incorporated into DIMHRS. In addition, DOD has not established a clear, well-defined process for maintaining effective communications to better prepare the Army to deploy DIMHRS. Effective communication is a key federal internal control standard that calls for communications to constantly flow down, across, and up the organization to help it achieve all of its objectives. Such communication would improve the Army's understanding of what the system will deliver thus enabling the Army to better design and implement effective business processes to work with DIMHRS. The Army has had problems receiving assurance from DOD about the extent to which its requirements would be included in DIMHRS. For example, in September 2007, when the Army compared versions 3.0 and 3.1 of the system requirements document, it noted that DOD's DIMHRS program office had not effectively communicated with the Army the rationale or negotiated the acceptance of the Army's requirements that were dropped, changed, or both, which were agreed upon in version 3.0. During the Army's review of version 3.1, it identified and submitted 717 issues for DOD to resolve. Furthermore, when communicating changes for version 3.1, the format made it difficult for the Army to perform its comparative analysis. Army officials said that when the DIMHRS program office does not effectively communicate to them the differences between its requirements and the system, they have difficulty conducting a gap analysis between the system's planned capabilities and their own requirements. The gap analysis forms the basis upon which the Army can determine whether it needs to develop or adjust its business processes prior to deploying DIMHRS. DOD recently took steps to improve its communications with the Army about DIMHRS's capabilities and its impact on Army requirements. For example, in May 2008, the DIMHRS program office began to meet with Army officials to discuss the development of a formal process of delivering and adjudicating the documented updates to the design; this includes the differences between the Army's requirements--documented need of what a particular product or service should be or do--and the DIMHRS's requirements, which are documented in the system requirements document. According to Army officials, with respect to version 3.2, they identified 311 issues with 98 issues remaining in July 2008, which the DIMHRS program office is working to resolve. Additionally, in April 2008, the DIMHRS program office shared more detailed information about DIMHRS's capabilities through activities, such as demonstrations of the system capabilities. Moreover, the Deputy Director of the Business Transformation Agency stated that moving the deployment date to March 2009 allowed the DIMHRS program office and the Army the time to communicate about DIMHRS's capabilities. Although these steps have been taken, DOD has not developed and documented a clearly defined process for maintaining effective communications of the differences between DIMHRS's capabilities and Army requirements. Without a clearly defined process for maintaining effective communications, the Army may not be effectively prepared to deploy the system when scheduled, and DOD may deliver a system that will require extensive and expensive investments.
Recommendation for Executive Action
Status: Closed - Not Implemented
Comments: DOD formed a Tiger Team in April 2009 responsible for bolstering DOD's communication efforts and assisting with the Army's preparedness for the deployment of DIMHRS. The Tiger Team--comprised of representatives from the Business Transformation Agency, Army, and Defense Finance and Accounting Service--was responsible for examining operational readiness from a holistic business view point by incorporating elements of people, process, and technology for the Hire-to-Retire end-to-end business process. According to DOD, this was designed to enhance communication efforts and encourage the prompt resolution of issues that emerge due to the potential differences between DIMHRS' capabilities and Army requirements. The Tiger Team was required to report to a Senior Executive Level Governance Board, responsible for expediting resolution of issues, directing resources towards resolution of gaps that the team identified, and closely monitoring the Army's readiness to deploy DIMHRS. However, in February 2010, DOD canceled the DIMHRS program.
Recommendation: To help address the Army's needs and minimize extensive and expensive fixes to DIMHRS, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Secretary of Defense to develop and document a clearly defined process for maintaining effective communications of the differences between DIMHRS's capabilities and Army requirements to help ensure that the Army will have adequate time to prepare for deployment of the system.
Agency Affected: Department of Defense