DOD Systems Modernization:

Management of Integrated Military Human Capital Program Needs Additional Improvements

GAO-05-189: Published: Feb 11, 2005. Publicly Released: Feb 11, 2005.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) has long-standing problems with its information technology (IT) systems supporting military personnel and pay. To address these problems, DOD initiated the Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS) program, which is to provide a joint, integrated, standardized military personnel and pay system across all military components. In November 2004, DOD accepted the design for the first of three phases, DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay). GAO reviewed DOD's management of the requirements definition for the system as well as the program's management structure.

DOD faces significant management challenges with DIMHRS, a major system acquisition program that is expected to lead to major changes in the processing of military personnel and pay. To its credit, DOD has begun taking steps to ensure that the requirements and the design for the first phase of the program are consistent with each other by tracing backward and forward between the detailed requirements and the system design, and it did obtain formal user acceptance of the DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) high-level requirements. However, it has not obtained user acceptance of the detailed requirements. Furthermore, it has not ensured that the detailed requirements are complete and understandable. For example, requirements for the interfaces between DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) and existing systems have not yet been fully defined because DOD has not yet determined how many legacy systems will be partially replaced and thus require modification. Furthermore, DOD is still determining whether the data requirements provided to the contractor for system design are complete. Finally, an estimated 77 percent of the detailed requirements are difficult to understand, based on GAO's review of a random sample of the requirements documentation. These challenges increase the risk that the delivered system capabilities will not fully meet the users' needs. Moreover, although DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) is to be an integrated system, its development is not being governed by integrated tools and approaches, such as an integrated program management structure, enterprise architecture, and master schedule. Furthermore, while DOD is appropriately attempting to maximize the use of commercial, off-the shelf (COTS) products in building the new system, it has not adequately followed some important best practices associated with COTS-based system acquisitions. For example, DOD's program plan/schedule does not adequately recognize the needs of end-user organizations for the time and resources to integrate DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) with their respective legacy systems and to prepare their workforces for the organizational changes that the system will introduce. DOD's requirements definition challenges and shortcomings in program governance can be attributed to a number of causes, including the program's overly schedule-driven approach and DOD's difficulty in overcoming its long-standing cultural resistance to departmentwide solutions. Unless these challenges are addressed, the risk is increased that the system will not provide expected capabilities and benefits on time and within budget. Given the limitations in some DOD components' ability to accurately pay military personnel, it is vital that these risks be addressed swiftly and effectively.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: To assist DOD in strengthening its program management processes, structures, and plans and thereby increase its chances of successfully delivering DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay), the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary (Networks and Information Integration), the Under Secretary (Personnel and Readiness), and the Under Secretary (Comptroller), in collaboration with the leadership of the military services and DFAS, to jointly ensure an integrated, coordinated, and risk-based approach to all DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) definition, design, development, and deployment activities, by ensuring that all relevant acquisition management best practices associated with COTS-based systems are appropriately followed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to DOD, all relevant acquisition management best practices associated with COTS-based systems are being appropriately followed, including the three that we cite in our report as not being followed: (1) ensuring that plans explicitly provide for preparing users for the impact that the business processes embedded in the commercial components will have on their respective roles and responsibilities, (2) proactively managing the introduction and adoption of changes to how users will be expected to use the system to execute their jobs, and (3) ensuring that project plans explicitly provide for the necessary time and resources for integrating commercial components with legacy systems.

    Recommendation: To assist DOD in strengthening its program management processes, structures, and plans and thereby increase its chances of successfully delivering DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay), the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary (Networks and Information Integration), the Under Secretary (Personnel and Readiness), and the Under Secretary (Comptroller), in collaboration with the leadership of the military services and DFAS, to jointly ensure an integrated, coordinated, and risk-based approach to all DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) definition, design, development, and deployment activities, by developing and implementing a DOD-wide, integrated master plan/schedule of activities that extends to all DOD program stakeholders.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to DIM HRS program officials, the Defense Business Systems Management Committee approved the integrated master program schedule (IMPS) in July 2006 and subsequently in May 2007. The schedule includes the activities--such as data management, testing, and deployment--to be performed by DIM HRS stakeholders. The IMPS also includes the following stakeholders: Army, Air Force, Defense Finance and Accounting Service, and Personnel and Readiness (Information Management). In January 2009, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the restructuring of DIM HRS to include the development, first, of a DIM HRS core capability that will satisfy DOD-wide requirements. As a result of the restructuring of the DIM HRS program, the integrated master program schedule will need to be updated accordingly. Further details about the status of this recommendation are considered for official use only and will be provided separately.

    Recommendation: To assist DOD in strengthening its program management processes, structures, and plans and thereby increase its chances of successfully delivering DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay), the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary (Networks and Information Integration), the Under Secretary (Personnel and Readiness), and the Under Secretary (Comptroller), in collaboration with the leadership of the military services and DFAS, to jointly ensure an integrated, coordinated, and risk-based approach to all DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) definition, design, development, and deployment activities, by ensuring that the degree of consistency between DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) and the evolving DOD-wide business enterprise architecture is continuously analyzed and that material inconsistencies between the two, both potential and actual, are disclosed at all program reviews and decision points and in program budget submissions, along with any associated system risks and steps to mitigate these risks.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to DOD officials, the Human Resources Management's Investment Review Board certified to the Defense Business Systems Management Committee, which is chaired by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, that DIMHRS is compliant with the business enterprise architecture (BEA), and that there are no material inconsistencies between the BEA and DIMHRS. Program officials stated that they intend to assure continued compliance and alignment with the BEA and consistent with DOD's policy and process, the program will be certified on an annual basis.

    Recommendation: To assist DOD in strengthening its program management processes, structures, and plans and thereby increase its chances of successfully delivering DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay), the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary (Networks and Information Integration), the Under Secretary (Personnel and Readiness), and the Under Secretary (Comptroller), in collaboration with the leadership of the military services and DFAS, to jointly ensure an integrated, coordinated, and risk-based approach to all DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) definition, design, development, and deployment activities, by establishing a DOD-wide integrated governance structure for DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) (1) that vests an executive-level organization or entity representing the interests of all program stakeholders--including the Joint Requirements and Integration Office, the Joint Program Management Office, the services, and DFAS--with responsibility, accountability, and authority for the entire DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) program and (2) that ensures that all stakeholder interests and positions are appropriately heard and considered during program reviews and before key program decisions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In January 2009, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the restructuring of DIMHRS to include the development, first, of a DIMHRS core capability that will satisfy DOD-wide requirements. As part of this, the Deputy Secretary of Defense also directed the restructuring of the DIMHRS "core" governance structure. DOD has since established (1) an integrated product team structure to include representatives of all program stakeholders, such as the military services, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, and Personnel and Readiness; (2) a governance board chaired by the Deputy Chief Management Officer; and (3) a steering committee chaired by the Director of the Business Transformation Agency. Further details about the status of this recommendation are considered for official use only and will be provided separately. Lastly, DOD has established a governance structure for DIMHRS, headed by two executive-level oversight committees--the Defense Business Systems Management Committee and the DIMHRS O-8 Steering Committee.

    Recommendation: To assist DOD in strengthening its program management processes, structures, and plans and thereby increase its chances of successfully delivering DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay), the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary (Networks and Information Integration), the Under Secretary (Personnel and Readiness), and the Under Secretary (Comptroller), in collaboration with the leadership of the military services and DFAS, to jointly ensure an integrated, coordinated, and risk-based approach to all DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) definition, design, development, and deployment activities, by ensuring that joint system requirements are complete and correct, and that they are acceptable to user organizations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In January 2009, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the restructuring of DIMHRS to include the development, first, of a DIMHRS core capability that will satisfy DOD-wide requirements. To this end, the Deputy Secretary of Defense directed the military departments, including the Active Guard and Reserve Components, with the support of the Business Transformation Agency, Office of Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to confirm the "core" enterprise requirements, which will primarily be restricted to those common data and process elements that are required to achieve timely and accurate military pay. According to the program manager, a memo was submitted to the Deputy Secretary of Defense acknowledging the completion of the required tasks outlined in the acquisition decision memorandum, one of which was to get agreement on the "core" requirements and ensure that they are complete and correct and acceptable to the user organizations.

    Recommendation: To assist DOD in strengthening its program management processes, structures, and plans and thereby increase its chances of successfully delivering DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay), the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary (Networks and Information Integration), the Under Secretary (Personnel and Readiness), and the Under Secretary (Comptroller), in collaboration with the leadership of the military services and DFAS, to jointly ensure an integrated, coordinated, and risk-based approach to all DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay) definition, design, development, and deployment activities, by ensuring that an event-driven, risk-based approach that adequately considers factors other than the contract schedule continues to be used in managing DIMHRS (Personnel/Pay).

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD has adopted a more event-driven, risk management process to allow for the consideration of factors other than schedule. For example, in September 2006, DOD established a Risk Management Control Board that meets monthly and assists the DIMHRS program office in identifying, analyzing, mitigating, tracking, and communicating program risks, such as data interfaces, testing, and data conversion. Further, according to DOD, in April 2008, DOD changed its deployment date from October 2008 to March 2009 to consider critical events, such as conducting adequate testing of the system's performance on payroll processing.

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