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New personnel system looks for untapped Soldier talent

WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — There’s a lot of untapped talent in the Army,
especially among Soldiers who serve in the reserve components, but that’s going to
change, according to the Army’s senior personnel officer.

Most Citizen-Soldiers put on their uniforms at least two days a month, but they still
spend most of their time in civilian clothes doing jobs that require skills and talents the
Army hasn’t really ever paid much attention to, said Lt. Gen. James C. McConville, the
Army’s deputy chief of staff, G-1.

That will change with full deployment of new personnel software, called the Integrated
Personnel and Pay System-Army. IPPS-A will provide a huge range of human
resources and pay capabilities for the regular Army, the Army National Guard and the
Army Reserve, McConville said.

One of the capabilities IPPS-A will provide Army leadership is the ability to track talent
inside the force, across all three components of the Army. It will track the skills and
talents and capabilities that individual Soldiers might have, outside their regular Army

“It’ll be the first time in the history of the Army that we have all three components, the
active, the Guard and the Reserve on one system,” McConville said. “That’s a huge
deal. Right now as the G-1 of the Army, I can’t screen for the talent I have in the
Guard and Reserve.”

At the 2016 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition,
leaders said IPPS-A will replace 45 existing systems that currently do things
independently of each other.

McConville relayed a scenario from about eight years ago, back when he was serving
as deputy commanding general (support), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), and
Combined Joint Task Force-101, Operation Enduring Freedom, in Afghanistan.

Then, he said, there was a surge, and “we needed a lot of skill sets that would help us
build up Afghanistan.”

There were Reserve and Guard forces there, he said, and those Soldiers were asked
to provide information about talents and skills they used during their civilian jobs.

“Basically what we found out, the Army is managing this person as a supply sergeant,
but they might have been running a construction company,” back home, McConville
said. “Or they were an S-3, or a captain or a major in infantry, but we found out this
person was the head of the Texas Highway Department.”

In the reserve components, the Army has an array of talents, right at its fingertips, he
said. But until now there’s been no way to document that talent, or to identify who has
it, so the Army could make use of it. The Army’s Talent Management Task Force will
use IPSSA-A as a way to document those talents and exploit them where needed, he

“We mange people in the Army basically by two variables: what is your rank and what
is your occupational specialty,” McConville said. “We don’t know enough about them.
We truly don’t know what their knowledge, skills and abilities are. Now we have a
million folks that we can tap into and get them on the field in the right position, in the
right place at the right time.”

Now, McConville said, the Army will be able to use IPPS-A to define Soldiers by as
many as 25 variables, for instance, instead of just rank and specialty, and that will
provide much more detail on what a Soldier can do beyond what the Army currently
thinks might be the capability. That will help the Army put the best people into the jobs
it needs to fill, he said.

“We’re going to be able to screen their name for their cognitive and non-cognitive skill
sets. So if we’re hiring somebody, and need somebody who is a very good writer or
good speaker, we’ll know that. And if we want somebody that can work with the
interagency, we’ll know that or they speak this language, or have this type of skill set.

Maj. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, director of the Army Talent Management Task Force,
said IPPS-A will provide “talent matching” for Army jobs.

“There are some social apps out there that do that,” already he said. “But this is on a
very large scale, almost 1.1 million people. It’s an information technology system that
will allow us to see the talents that are out there, to forecast the requirements of the
jobs we need done, and those jobs may have to do with a deployment or upcoming
operation, and then make that automated match, so the individual can see it, the
assignment officer can see it, and leaders and officers can see it.

“The best way to think of it is an open market place for allowing units, allowing
individuals to compete for talent, and to allow individuals to tell us what they want,
and to be able to see the jobs that are out there in the future.”

Because IPPS-A works across all three components, it’ll allow the Army to dip into
the total force for talent, Shoffner said. That’s something it couldn’t do before, and
something it will benefit greatly from when IPPS-A comes fully online.

“It’s going to be a game-changer once we get the system in place,” he said.

This winter, Shoffner said, a “bridge” to IPPS-A called the “assignment interactive
module” will be piloted with students from the Command and General Staff College.

“We’re going to use our normal distribution cycles, our normal assignment cycles, to
take a look at that population — it’s about 900 officers — and that’ll be our first stab or
attempt at trying to get this right,” he said.

The Army should have an automated talent management capability established by late
next summer, he said.