Evaluations release highlights vPC-GR evolution
by Master Sgt. J.C. Woodring
Air Reserve Personnel Center Public Affairs
8/13/2008 - DENVER (AFPN) -- When the new online evaluations process for coordinating performance reports launched in July, it quickly became a shining example of the capabilities of the virtual Personnel Center - Guard and Reserve.
Since it launched, nearly 1,400 reservists and Guardsmen have begun coordinating the online performance reports, and the first was successfully loaded into the Automatic Records Management System on July 24.
"This is a great example of the vPC-GR's capability to let our Airmen submit their forms and have a systematic visibility on their status throughout the chain of command," said Dave Gallop, Air Reserve Personnel Center's Directorate of Personnel Data Systems director.
The earlier version of the process, which only was available to reservists, would let performance reports be uploaded into vPC-GR, but there wasn't the online coordination or visibility.
"Commanders could have reports in coordination without knowing their status," said Lt. Col. Doug Ottinger, ARPC's Directorate of Future Operations director. "Now, Guard and Reserve commanders can know exactly where all their reports are by looking on vPC-GR."
At the genesis of their Web-based services in December 2005, ARPC officials allowed customers to request a copy of their 20-year and mortgage letters and print them from their own computer. Also, officers could submit a letter to the promotion board or request promotion board counseling.
This happened before the real push by Air Force officials to meet a secretary of defense mandate for the military to catch up and use more technology to free up limited personnel resources. In the personnel world, Air Force officials were required to transform the way they delivered personnel services.
"We wanted to create a system where any of our customers could log in and request any service we provide at their convenience from anywhere in the world," said Craig Carter, a software engineer in DPD. "Then, we could get back to them with a response within a reasonable timeframe."
ARPC specialists began filling online requests for documents since switching to new software in October 2004, Mr. Carter said.
"The 20 year and mortgage letters process was our first process that didn't require anyone to do anything on the back end. The computer did all the work for us," he said.
A vast majority of the requests, like duty history changes and address updates, need a person to handle the issues before they can be closed. These are referred as Tier 1 transactions and are normally completed by customer service counselors who work in the Reserve Personnel Contact Center. If special attention is needed, it is referred to Tier 2.
"These letters are examples of Tier 0 service at its finest," Colonel Ottinger said. "The customer knows what he wants and the computer automatically gives it to him."
While not all the processes can fall into Tier 0, the six Air Force civilian developers still are working to make services easier for customers.
In the past couple years, ARPC developers launched online processes for customers to apply for retirement and nominate Airmen for decorations.
One of the most significant changes to the system came in December 2007 with the launch of the vPC-GR Dashboard. This tool gave people a centralized place to see anything that was being processed in the system, he said. Specifically, it gave leaders and people in key positions within the organization the ability to see the status of transactions within their area of responsibility.
"With where we are around the world in many different and varied areas, giving our members access is crucial ... so they know and have a comfortable feeling that their records are right," said Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner, Jr., chief of Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command. "Personnel services delivery transformation ... is helping us keep pace in line with the ops tempo of today's world and how we deploy around the world."
So far, the vPC-GR has processed tens of thousands of transactions since its first official capability, duty history updates for the Reserve, was launched in March 2006.
While most of the items which the developers have planned are enhancements to existing applications, there are still a couple Air National Guard-specific applications in the works like requests to separate.
"As developers, we have total control over vPC-GR applications and our case management system," Mr. Carter said. "If an urgent change is needed based on customer feedback, mandated changes or to fix a problem, we have the local talent and flexibility to make these changes quickly."
As the military transitions to the Defense Integrated Human Resource System, Mr. Carter said he doesn't see his role disappearing when they flip the switch.
"Very few programs meet all of their customers' needs when they first hit the street. We'll be prepared to provide development support for customer processes during the transition to DIMHRS and migration to the new consolidated case management system," he said.
"All of the online applications we're creating are helping us get comfortable with using online transactions, which will continue to increase as the military transitions to DIHMRS," said Senior Master Sgt. Melody Mohigh, Reserve change manager.
"We want to make is as easy as possible for our customers," Colonel Ottinger said. "As we receive feedback from the field, we evaluate it to see if there is anything we can do to make it easier for our customers as a whole."
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