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 DOT&E Director, Operational Test & Evaluation  
FY98 Annual Report
FY98 Annual Report

STANDARD INSTALLATION/DIVISION PERSONNEL SYSTEM VERSION 3 (SIDPERS-3)


Army ACAT 1AM Program: Prime Contractor
Total Number of Systems:50 sitesStatistica Inc. (through 1994)
Total Program Cost (TY$):$244MWashington Software Development Center
Average Unit Cost (TY$):$4.9M(current)
Full-rate production:1QFY99Service Certified Y2K Compliant
  No (Expected 2QFY99)

SYSTEM DESCRIPTION & CONTRIBUTION TO JOINT VISION 2010

The Standard Installation Division Personnel System Version 3 (SIDPERS-3) is a Standard Army Management Information System. The system consists of a relational data base, application software written in Ada, and a hardware suite. The hardware architecture is a host-based design with a terminal server as the hub on which the data base resides. Up to four personal computers can connect to the terminal server to access the data base and run office automation applications while not performing SIDPERS-3 functions.

The current system configuration consists of Pentium personal computers, the INFORMIX data base, and the SCO UNIX operating system. In addition, the SCO UNIX operating system will include an automated security appliqué that elevates the system to compliance with the trusted computer security requirements corresponding to the "C2" level.

SIDPERS-3 will replace the current versions of SIDPERS (Version 2 and its extensions). The new version is not an upgrade of the previous system(s). The application software has been rewritten and the relational data base is new. As such, SIDPERS-3 automates several functions that were not previously automated. SIDPERS-3 will fundamentally change the way personnel information is updated within the Army. The current SIDPERS operates in a batch-processing mode. Personnel data needing to be updated is collected from various units and submitted at specific times. This process can take up to a week from data entry. The implication is that at any given moment the data in the data base is outdated and potentially unreliable. Furthermore, it may take up to two weeks to correct the errors. With SIDPERS-3, an electronic connection between personnel units will be established. Data can then be transferred much more quickly up the chain of command.

The operational mission of SIDPERS-3 is to provide commanders and their staffs with real-time interactive access to personnel information, to enhance decision-making in the area of personnel resource management. This mission buttresses the Joint Vision 2010 concept by:

Supporting information superiority through an increased access to personnel and strength information.

Providing commanders up-to-date information on the strength of their forces, which could lead to an enhanced economy of force as well as a reduction in "build-up time."

Improving capability for rapid, worldwide deployment.


BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The IOTE for SIDPERS-3 was conducted from June 13-July 8, 1994, at Ft. Bragg, NC; Ft. Jackson, SC; and the U.S. Total Army Personnel Command in Alexandria, VA. The bulk of the testing took place at Ft. Bragg and involved the simulated operation of several personnel work centers at different command levels. Interfaces with the Reception Battalion Automated Support System and with the Total Army Personnel Data Base were monitored at Ft. Jackson, SC, and Alexandria, VA, respectively. SIDPERS-3 was tested under different simulated conditions including peacetime, mobilization, war, and demobilization. Also, the ability of operators to convert their present SIDPERS data bases to the SIDPERS-3 format was tested.

The results of the IOT&E clearly indicate that SIDPERS-3 did not accomplish its operational mission:

  • U.S. Army soldiers could not successfully complete a significant number of mission essential tasks using SIDPERS-3.


  • SIDPERS-3 did not communicate effectively within the Army's personnel chain of command (units using SIDPERS-3), regardless of the method of communications: modem, local area network, tactical communication, or floppy disk.


  • SIDPERS-3 did not communicate effectively with two of the required interfaces tested during IOT&E-the Total Army Personnel Data Base and the Reception Battalion Automated Support System.


  • SIDPERS-3 training was inadequate in preparing and maintaining operator skills required for operational proficiency.

For these reasons, DOT&E concluded that the system was not operationally effective and not operationally suitable.

Since SIDPERS-3 failed to positively resolve the critical operational issues concerning mission performance, interoperability, and training during the IOT&E, the Army was directed to conduct additional OT, prior to a fielding decision. A follow-on OA was conducted in November 1995 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, in conjunction with DT. DT was conducted to verify corrections to the software failures found during IOT&E. Although SIDPERS-3 performed better in certain areas during the OA, problems in mission performance, interoperability, and data base conversion led DOT&E to conclude that the system was still not operationally effective nor operationally suitable.

Following the results from the November 1995 OA, the MAISRC approved a corrective action plan for the system that included combined DT/OT at three beta test sites: Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, Ft. Jackson, SC, and Ft. Drum, NY, respectively. At each beta site, SIDPERS-3 was to be installed and employed for live operations for a period of approximately one month. The test sites were selected and ordered based on the size of the personnel data base and the number of transactions. Aberdeen Proving Ground was the smallest site and Ft. Drum the largest site. An OA was to be conducted at each site to determine if the system was mature enough to proceed to the next beta site.

The OA from the first beta test site, Aberdeen Proving Ground, indicated that the system's performance had improved in many areas. However, the system still fell short of being declared operationally effective and suitable in the following areas:

  • Mission Performance: many untrained workarounds, slow transaction processing, invalidated error resolution, and multi-tasking and multi-user limitations.


  • Interoperability: processing excessively burdensome with two interfaces.


  • Data Conversion: inadequate plan for implementation.


  • RAM: inadequate maintenance and logistics support concepts.

The OA at Ft. Jackson, which was conducted in July/August 1997, indicated severe problems with data base synchronization. This problem precluded the assessment of the other operational issues outstanding after the first OA. It is difficult to determine whether the data base synchronization difficulties are extrinsic or intrinsic to the system. In essence, it is yet to be determined whether the problem lies in the training and motivation of the soldiers, the implementation of revised personnel business practices, or the data base architecture.

SIDPERS-3 was tested in the field during September 1997 at Ft. Drum. The results indicated that the system's hardware was robust enough to withstand the field environment. However, due to the poor performance of the communications systems and the pressing nature of other field activities that limited the amount of time that soldiers' spent with personnel activities, it was unclear whether SIDPERS-3 could be employed effectively in the field.


TEST & EVALUATION ACTIVITY

During 1998, additional operational tests and evaluation were conducted at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD; Ft. Jackson, SC; and Ft. Drum, NY, in compliance with the TEMP approved by DOT&E on July 25, 1997. Additional operational test data were also collected at Ft. Benning, GA, Ft. Bragg, NC, and Ft. Campbell, KY, to further assess the data base synchronization and MANPRINT/training concerns.


TEST & EVALUATION ASSESSMENT

Test results indicate that the data base synchronization rate has improved, but the manual workload imposed on the users, work center supervisors, and system administrators is very high. It is not clear whether this heavy manual workload can be sustained indefinitely, especially in a field/wartime high tempo operational environment. Users expressed their preference for SIDPERS-3 (in comparison with the legacy personnel systems), as long as the data in the system was accurate. On encountering inaccurate data, the users are employing other methods to accomplish their personnel tasks.


LESSONS LEARNED

Operational test results indicate that SIDPERS-3 implemented a data base architecture that may not be suitable to support the current Army personnel practices. The program office should reconsider the data base architecture design in order to correct the synchronization problems once and for all. One probable design is to centralize all personnel records at a single location, such as a division. The users from the battalions, the brigades, and the division would share the same data base. This design would eliminate the need for data base synchronization and improve system operations significantly.


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