Flush with data and happy with ongoing technological experiments, the Navy is poised to let sailors start managing much of their careers on their personal cellphones and computer tablets.
The online innovations are part of a new “Detailing Marketplace” system expected to emerge by mid-2019, according to the Navy’s top uniformed personnel officer.
“It’s like a kind of LinkedIn for the Navy,” Vice Adm. Robert P. Burke told Navy Times during an interview. “But it’s that in the deeper sense in that it will know who the sailor is and have the ability to use that information to help them better manage their careers.”
In development since 2016, the one-stop electronic site promises to combine what sailors know as the current “orders negotiation” and “re-up approval” systems with their service records.
The smart device app will be similar to the desktop web version of today’s online electronic service record, only more robust, Burke said.
The innovation comes alongside an ongoing reworking of the Navy’s ratings and training systems so that the service can offer more career options than ever before to sailors.
For example, the Detailing Marketplace will display a menu not only of what’s available in a sailor’s current rating but also what’s being offered in similar career fields.
It will list incentives for tough jobs and provide a way to negotiate multiple tours in a row so that the sailor can achieve a stable home life while also getting essential training and educational opportunities, Navy leaders hope.
“If you are going for geographic stability, for example, it makes sense to negotiate two sets of orders at once,” Burke said.
A “My Navy Record” tab will be added to the "My Navy Portal” website and app so that sailors can instantly and conveniently look up their ASVAB scores, security clearance status, deployability details, qualifications and performance evaluations, a detailed history of the Navy Enlisted Classifications they hold, training certifications and duty preferences.
"It's their entire career history," Burke said. "It's all going to come into play as we try to fit sailors to jobs to a depth that hasn't ever happened before."
And that innovation could be ready early next year.
“We’re shooting for the end of this calendar year to have a mobile version of My Navy Portal up and running. We’re testing that now,” Burke said. “Portions of My Navy Record will be available on that mobile version which will access this totally new database and no [common access card] will be required on the mobile version.”
The new system also will let sailors change and update their records quickly and easily, ending long lines at personnel support detachments across the fleet.
Navy leaders hope that means sailors will swiftly seize opportunities to change their ratings, collect reenlistment and assignment bonuses or find a way to advance by choosing to fill a demanding billet.
Part of that will be made easier by other Navy reforms, such as an ongoing effort by officials to list common training, certifications and employment requirements for multiple career fields.
The idea is that the Navy’s “Ratings Modernization” initiative will find common work activities.
Hull maintenance technicians, for example, share several job skills with damage controlmen.
In fact, officials have found a dozen crossover areas between the ratings. Hull techs do about 35 percent of what damage controlmen also, just as damage controlmen do about 20 percent of what hull techs do.
The new system might alert hull technicians that advancement opportunities to the next pay grade can be found in the damage control field — or the other way around — depending on manning levels.
“In that case, the system could show you other ratings that are looking better,” Burke said. “By clicking on that link, it will show you, based on what training you already have, which schools that you will have to go to convert and, if you take that route, here’s your [re-up bonus] and updated advancement opportunity once you get there.”
The current system lets sailors cross-rate but rarely are they allowed to switch back to an original rating. The new process promises to remember where sailors came from and allow them to negotiate orders back to ratings they’ve already earned.
The Navy is testing this new technology on both desktop and mobile devices for the aerographer’s mate rating.
“We’re calling this a ‘war game’ because we’re using real data and sailors will be able to test functions and negotiate for money, advance to vacancy, geographic stability, educational opportunities — all those things — just as if they’re doing it for real," Burke said.
Officials are gathering data from the ongoing tests to refine the system.
“Major muscle movement parts will be in place April or May 2019 to support this,” Burke said. “Then we’ll commence a rating-by-rating roll out because we won’t be able to do it all at once as that would just be too difficult.”
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.