“Unanticipated errors” that arose this summer as Big Navy worked to transition its personnel systems left some fleet members unpaid, without ID cards and unable to access Tricare benefits, officials confirmed this week.
Chief of Naval Personnel officials said this week that most of the issues have since been resolved, but that the problems stemmed from the Navy consolidating its Navy Enlisted System and Officer Personnel Information System into a streamlined Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System, or NSIPS, last month.
Those old systems were integrated in the new NSIPS system last month, but “pay and personnel processing should have continued without errors,” CNP spokesman Cmdr. Dave Hecht told Navy Times.
“Unfortunately, there were errors and issues which impacted Sailors,” he said. “As errors were identified, they have been aggressively worked.”
Those “interface errors” meant the new personnel system wasn’t able to communicate with the Defense Joint Military Pay System and the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS, which handle pay and benefits, according to Hecht.
Reenlistments and extensions were delayed as a result, and new accession records were not set up in DEERS, barring some sailors from acquiring ID cards or accessing other benefits, he said.
It is unclear how many sailors’ paychecks and other benefits were affected by the system outages, Hecht said, but noted that as of Monday the Navy was tracking 34 outstanding Selective Reenlistment Bonus, or SRB, cases and 304 officer promotion pay raises that were incorrectly processed.
Any remaining pay issues are expected to be resolved by Sept. 1, he added.
“The complexities of these very old legacy systems were known and challenges were anticipated,” Hecht said. “Issues impacting pay receive the highest priority to ensure that every Sailor receives everything to which they are entitled, and actions were taken within 24 hours of issue identification to resolve the issues.”
Most pay hiccups were taken care of soon after the system issues arose in July, but Hecht said some had taken longer to resolve and that affected servicemembers would receive the back pay they are owed, as well as retroactive Tricare coverage.
“All affected Sailors are advised to keep in contact with their chain of command and their pay and personnel administrators, but can also reach out to the MyNavy Career Center,” Hecht said.
While Hecht said the program office had given affected parties a heads up regarding the system changeover, some Navy members affected by the problems told Navy Times they were frustrated that such issues with the transition occurred in the first place.
The system outage spanned several pay periods, which resulted in real-world consequences for sailors, even if they will eventually receive back pay, according to one affected officer who asked to remain anonymous because they weren’t authorized to speak.
“I feel privileged that my spouse can pay our bills, but I know there are people who probably aren’t so fortunate to have someone else that they can rely on,” the officer told Navy Times.
The officer, who noted the local personnel support office reported being flooded with “a lot of angry calls” about the system outage, questioned whether everyone was in the loop about the transition and its issues.
“The most disappointing part is that the people who are tasked with bringing people into the Navy and doing what we think is important work, to take care of our sailors, they weren’t prepared to do their jobs,” the officer added. “Instead, ‘Joe Shmoe’ is fielding tons of angry phone calls from people like me. They’re trying to do their jobs and the Navy didn’t prepare to do that.”
CNP earlier this year noted that the transitioning of legacy pay and benefits systems will offer sailors an easier, consolidated way to route paperwork regarding pay, benefits and other vital information.
“The Navy’s Transformation is critical to modernization of our systems to reduce the overall number of systems and interfaces, as well as manual work-arounds, required to perform human resources management functions,” Hecht said.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.