The Air Force on Monday awarded IBM an $11.8 million contract to integrate its military personnel and pay processes into one system.
As part of the Air Force Integrated Personnel and Pay System Program (AF-IPPS), IBM will design “an enterprise resource planning-based solution to meet all personnel and pay requirements,” according to a Defense Department announcement. Work is expected to be completed by December 2014.
The new personnel and pay system will replace the Military Personnel Data System (MilPDS) and the Defense Joint Military Pay System (DJMS) for the Air Force, according to a December 2012 Mitre report. The new system will play a key role in helping the Air Force meet its audit goals.
The system will serve about 507,000 service members and “thousands of military leaders of different ranks, specialties, and career fields,” according to the administration’s IT Dashboard, which tracks the status of large technology projects. The Air Force expects the system will reduce annual payroll errors by 75 percent, and allow airmen to be compensated in a timely manner at least 98.5 percent of the time.
The Mitre report also notes the new system will have a self-service capability for airmen to update personal information and access their pay records anytime. However, the system is expected to have more than 100 user interfaces and connections to external systems, which could create technical, cost and schedule challenges, the report said.
Federal employees were among the hundreds of victims of what prosecutors Thursday described as a large-scale identify theft ring operating in the Washington area.
Ten people were charged in the scam to steal personal information, including social security numbers, from dental and insurance offices and other area businesses, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia announced in a news release Thursday.
A copy of the indictment can be viewed here.
Prosecutors said more than 600 potential victims have been identified, including employees at the State and Defense departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Once they stole the personal data, members of the identity theft conspiracy used that information to create bogus ID’s to open credit lines under the victims’ names, running up charges at Macy’s, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Kay Jewelers, according to the 16-page indictment.
Prosecutors announced the arrests of: Janero Blalock, 31, and Christopher Bush, 39, whom authorities identified as the ringleaders, as well as Adrienne Pritchett, 42; Segale Battle, 30; Jamille Ferguson, 31; Tekia Thomas, 20; and Elizabeth Monika Hunter, 19.
Two others were already in custody: Jennifer Scruggs, 44, and Rungnatee Person, 45. Prosecutors said an arrest warrant had been issued for one other defendant, Kevin Middleton, 32.
The Defense Department could cut as many as five furlough days from the 11 currently planned by the end of the fiscal year in September, according to an Associated Press report. The report, which cites only anonymous sources, says that Pentagon officials are looking at trimming the total number of unpaid days off to somewhere between six and eight. Hold your breath, though–no announcement is planned this week, according to the AP.
At present, about 650,000 DoD civilian employees are generally losing one day per week to the furloughs that began early this month; as Defense News is reporting, the furloughs–imposed as part of the Pentagon’s strategy for dealing with sequester-related budget cuts–are turning even routine business into a hassle. Meanwhile, DoD employees are flooding the Merit Systems Protection Board with thousands of appeals.
While Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said for months that department officials hope to trim the total number of furlough days, the AP story suggests that they may actually be preparing to do so.
Organized labor is urging a congressional committee to allow House members to vote on two amendments dealing with federal employee furlough policy when they take up a fiscal 2014 defense spending bill.
One of the amendments would “register a vote of no confidence” in the Defense Department’s use of furloughs; the other would stop furloughs of DoD employees paid through working capital funds, according to a letter this week from William Samuel, head of the AFL-CIO’s government affairs department.
The letter was addressed to leaders of the House Rules Committee, which acts as gatekeeper in deciding which amendments House members can consider when the defense bill comes up for floor debate. The committee was supposed to make that call yesterday, but the decision will now probably come next week. Also weighing in on behalf of the working capital fund amendment (offered by Reps. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Derek Kilmer, D-Wash.) is the National Federation of Federal Employees.
Defense Department civilian employees are appealing directly to the Obama administration to end the furloughs that are taking a 20 percent bite out of the paychecks of many.
“We have taken sequestration harder than all the departments,” states the petition created today on the White House’s “We the People” site. “Department of Defense civil servants continue to ‘take one for the team’ and we will continue to do our service to our country, but would like our country to listen.”
The petition, which must attract 100,000 signatures in the next 30 days to merit an official response, comes a little over a week after furloughs began for some 650,000 DoD civilians. Pentagon leaders have told them to expect up to 11 unpaid days off by the end of the fiscal year in September.
By one estimate, it’s one of the best constructed facilities in Afghanistan, but soon the $34 million military center in Hemland province could be torn down because, well, it turns out troops are leaving and the U.S. government might not have really needed the building in the first place.
Special Office of Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko outlined the scope and history of the expensive problem in a letter this week to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, which you can read about here.
But for a virtual tour of the building’s clean, spacious and barren offices and meeting rooms, the IG’s office has posted a set of photos online.
No doubt, it’s a spacious facility, but there’s just one thing missing: people.
The Marine Corps is testing new capabilities it hopes will cut mobile computing costs in half.
The service is working with Verizon, Sprint and AT&T on a small beta program to test the feasibility of wireless carriers managing the security of mobile devices, based on Marine Corps policies and standards. The devices will be managed using a dual persona solution, which will allow the carriers to manage government data and applications but not personal use of the phone by military and civilian users.
“If the beta goes well and we prove the technical requirements that need to be employed, then we will move into the pilot,” said Rob Anderson, chief of Command, Control, Communications and Computers- Vision & Strategy Division at Marine Corps Headquarters.
The pilot will include about 500 users in the northern Virginia area, but the Marine Corps hasn’t determined if the pilot will use personal or government devices. If successful, the pilot will be expanded across the military service and serve as the foundation for a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps is also testing how capabilities offered by the wireless carriers stack up to a mobile device management solution offered by the Defense Information Systems Agency. DISA is testing a mobile device management (MDM) solution provided by Good Technologies.
“We want to compare both pilots,” said Anderson, who spoke at a mobile computing summit Tuesday. He said the Marine Corps will compare the cost of DISA managing mobile devices versus the wireless carriers and consider user feedback from both pilots.
“We are keeping all options open,” he said. “Whatever the most cost efficient is, [that's] the way we will go. Money is going to drive this train.”
More than a year after the administration released its digital strategy to speed adoption of secure mobile devices, agencies are still grappling with standards for vetting the security of internal and commercial mobile apps.
Today, there isn’t a federal standard for securing mobile apps, but government officials are hopeful a process will be created similar to what’s in place for vetting cloud products and services used in the government.
“In order for an app that’s developed by DHS to be put in a DoD app store there’s going to have to be some level of assurance,” said Robert Palmer, director of information assurance at DHS.
The National Security Agency, DARPA, General Services Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology are among the agencies playing a key role in federal mobile security.
“We’re heading toward the direction of standards,” said Palmer, who spoke on a panel Tuesday at the Federal Mobile Computing Summit. He said NIST is set to release draft guidelines for testing and vetting mobile apps.
Verifying the identity of mobile users as they access data from their smartphones and tablets is another challenge.
At the Defense Department,” we still believe that the PIV, our identity management cards, are…the network hygiene of mobility,” said DOD’s Mark Norton, who also spoke on the panel. The problem is most of the 3 million cards in use at DoD are not used to log onto mobile devices. Norton said DoD is considering technologies, such as near field communication and micro SD cards to help manage user identity.
He said the department currently has 50 mobile pilots underway to test different use cases for the devices.
With the Defense Department expected to announce a final furlough policy as early as this week, a union has asked the Merit Systems Protection Board for a heads-up on how it would rule on behalf of DoD employees who appeal decisions to make them take unpaid time off.
Issuing “a pre-emptive statement of opinion” on whether those employees could win appeals would save the board “from deciding thousands of cases that would likely come,” Gregory Junemann, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, said in last week’s letter to MSPB chairman Susan Grundmann. A board spokesman declined comment Friday, but said a response will be coming soon.
As of today, DoD officially plans to furlough most of its almost 800,000-strong civilian workforce for up to 14 days by the end of September. But in an April 26 letter to members of Congress, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated that the Pentagon is still searching for ways to trim or eliminate the number of furlough days. In a sign that something’s brewing, the Navy on Friday postponed sending furlough notices that were supposed to go out today.
In seeking an advance ruling, IFPTE is also hoping to prod Hagel into taking furloughs off the table altogether or else relax the department’s current policy requiring military services and other components to stick to the 14-day benchmark even if their finances allow for a lesser amount of unpaid time off. While that goal is a long-shot, the letter is a reminder that the board–as Federal Times has previously reported–could be swamped with appeals if mass furloughs do take place.
The Navy today told its employees that furlough letters — which were scheduled to go out Monday — will be delayed until further notice.
A Navy official told Federal Times that because the service hadn’t gotten the final furlough policy from the Pentagon, it was putting its notification effort on hold. Unless Navy hears otherwise, it is still expecting to furlough employees for up to 14 days by the end of fiscal 2013.
“We understand [the furlough process] causes angst and concern, and to mitigate that, we’ve tried to be as informative as we can,” a Navy official said. “Until we get that policy officially, we won’t be able to put out official notifications.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to announce his decision soon — perhaps as soon as next week — on how broad the furloughs will be.
The Navy, like all federal agencies, must give employees 30 days of official notice before it can actually furlough them. If the Navy’s notices went out May 6, as originally planned, that would mean June 5 would have been the earliest furloughs could begin. That would leave 16 weeks to furlough employees before the end of the fiscal year in September. But the delay in issuing notices could shorten that window.