By LtCol Janet Polach
LtCol Kay Young
Have you wondered where administration will be in the 21st
Century? Have you looked back to see where it’s been the
last 100 years? Even I can recall the days of typewriters,
drum-type copy machines and those new strange “green machines”.
To exploit a famous saying “we’ve come a long way, baby”, is an
understatement. Technology has us all in its grip, to include
the manpower and pay system that ensures Marines’ personnel information,
military history, and pay is accurate. The Marine Corps
Total Force System (MCTFS) is the largest Class I system in the
Marine Corps, having over 3+ million lines of code. How
will it fare in the Year 2000? It moved into the new millennium
with no Y2K problems or errors and indications are that it will
be smooth sailing ahead!! MCTFS was the first, and largest,
manpower system within DoD to become Year 2000 compliant.
Being first has its benefits, but in this case, the honor of being
first subjected MCTFS to constant and detailed scrutiny.
The guinea pig of manpower Automated Information Systems (AISs),
MCTFS was proven time and again as being ready for the new century.
This however, is recent history. MCTFS success did not occur
overnight, nor were its capabilities fully embraced until technology
paved the way. The future of MCTFS is exciting, with a long-term
vision of almost “administrator-less” administration. Technology
is waiting for exploitation and with successful architecture and
systems development, the new Century should see some huge strides
forward in our ability to efficiently pay and administer to
The input of personnel information is enabled through MCTFS’
efficient integration of personnel and pay functions.
In MCTFS, the addition of a dependent not only effects a change
to the dependency information but automatically ensures pay
related items are changed as well, without additional input.
This accuracy and efficiency may seem remarkable to some of
us who in the past have had difficulty just changing an address.
However, these changes and the related changes they cause have
become as simple as a unit diary entry. In time, personnel
changes may become even simpler to update, possibly from your
home computer or from a kiosk in your unit or on your base.
The system that has made all this possible is MCFTS. MCTFS
is the only fully integrated personnel and pay system within
the DoD. It holds all personnel and pay-related information
on every Marine in the Corps - active, reserve, and retired!
MCTFS is the largest class I system in the Marine Corps.
Supporting over 2,000 end users (diary clerks, career planners,
monitors, etc.), it manages over 500,000 Marine records; active,
reserve and retired. It is a mainframe-based application
holding all the personnel and pay data on every Marine to include:
operations and deployments dates, promotions history, performance
evaluation results, join/transfer history, assignments information,
awards, drill accounting, MOS classification, language proficiency,
medical screening, and training information. It also contains
all information necessary to pay each Marine correctly: state
taxes and residency information, dependency and allowances information,
and allotments. MCTFS is jointly owned by the Marine
Corps and the Defense Finance Activity Service-Kansas City Center.
System enhancements and maintenance is provided by the Information
Technology Directorate (ITD), DFAS-KCC. The ITD was recently
lauded by a Gartner Group Study for being among the most cost
efficient organization in or outside of government, for showing
higher than average customer satisfaction and for demonstrating
strong strategic partnerships with its customers. Based
on a revolving fund concept, the ITD is a not for profit organization,
charging only $53.64 per hour of development in FY 00.
The quality service and critical relationships forged between
DFAS-KC, HQMC/M&RA and the ITD have proven their worth throughout
the team’s 30-year relationship.
The benefits of a truly integrated system allow one entry
to automatically update numerous related information and simultaneously
correcting or updating pay-related data, without additional
intervention. This tightly integrated pay and personnel
system, where all the data is carefully linked together, logically
infers what other data fields need to be updated when particular
events occur. Integrated systems significantly increase
timeliness of entries, and greatly enhance accuracy – numerous
users enter information only once, rather than multiple times
in multiple formats.
MCTFS has been tracking Marines’ data for over 30 years.
It began with a concept for a single source data entry system
in 1963. Evolving into the USMC Manpower Management System
(MMS) in 1966, it was modified to include payroll information
in 1973 (JUMPS/MMS). A similar system was replicated for
the Marine Corps Reserve (REMMPS) in 1981. In 1994, the
two systems were combined to form the Marine Corps Total Force
System for active, reserve, and retired Marines.
MCTFS is supported by one of the most robust, responsive
and technically proficient teams possible. Made up of
Marines and civilians from HQMC, M&RA, MI Division, the
Manpower Information Support Activity (MISSA), Kansas City and
the Defense Finance Activity Service (DFAS) in Kansas City,
MCTFS program and functional management teams leverage combined
functional and technical knowledge to produce quality system
enhancements twice a year. Every October and May MCTFS
system changes are released. These releases include enhanced
system capabilities, changes dictated by law or new technology
to support the users in the field. These capabilities
are then packaged into a release, tested on the existing system,
and announced to the user community. Just prior to the
release, a team from Headquarters and DFAS-KC visit commands
throughout the Marine Corps to explain the release and teach
end users how to use the new functionality. The team is continuously
looking for ways to reduce paper and time intensive processes
and improve service to individual Marines and deploying units.
Recent releases, for example, have included:
Automation of the remedial NCO promotion process.
This effort allows erroneous composite scores to be electronically
recomputed and automatically reconsidered for promotion for
corporal and sergeant. This change not only speeds up
the remedial promotion process, it requires only one change
to be made in the system, rather than the three that were previously
The Awards/Combat History page in the SRB/OQR has been fully
automated. This initiative gives full view of a Marine’s
personal awards and combat history dates on line, rather than
in paper form. This change has completely eliminated the
need to manually update the page 9, Awards and Combat History
Page in a Marine’s SRB or OQR.
In addition to keeping the system current and continually adding
more functionality, efforts are underway to find electronic
and automated means to replace the myriad of paper forms that
are so time consuming to administrators.
One goal is to automate the SRB/OQR, providing all information
in an electronic form with data capture initially in MCTFS.
One of the first steps is to automate the forms within the record
books. Other paper records used by the administrator have
also been transformed to electronic formats: the promotion certificate
for PFC to Sergeant, Good Conduct Certificates for both active
duty and reserve personnel, dental forms, Family Member Application
(formerly the Dependent Application Form), and Commuted Rations.
These forms are now generated automatically after the events’
effective dates are entered into the unit diary.
Finally, MCTFS acts as the backbone on which other manpower
management applications have been built. Again, because
MCTFS is an integrated system, manpower planners are able to
access required information needed to plan and implement the
Human Resource Development Process. Over the last two
years, significant development has occurred to modernize the
methods utilized to access and query the data resident in MCTFS.
The Marine Corps Manpower Operational Data Store (MCMODS)
is designed to integrate data from MCTFS in order to provide
a "read-only" capability for querying, reporting, analysis and
as a data source for manpower client server/web applications.
MCMODS captures MCTFS data and makes it accessible via Impromptu,
a user-friendly query tool. The beauty of MCMODS is the
simplistic ease and the reliability of the “time” of the data
within.. The Total Force Data Warehouse (TFDW) will be of similar
purpose, but contain historical information to track manpower
trends, or query historical information from MCTFS.
Need a picture of MCTFS as the backbone and other systems
built on top of it
Total Force Administration System (TFAS), managed by MP
Division, M&RA, will leverage forward-looking technologies,
conserve precious manpower resources and markedly improve the
quality of administrative support we must provide our commanders
and their Marines/families in the range of environments and
circumstances in which they serve. The focus of the TFAS initiative
is on the front-end of our pay and admin processes for reporting
and retrieving information from MCTFS. The TFAS initiative
does not involve replacement or significant modification to
MCTFS. This modernization effort includes a review of
the role of the Commander, the role of the individual Marine,
organizational structure, processes and technology. TFAS
will provide high quality, comprehensive services to Marines,
remotely located throughout the world, whether operating in
an expeditionary environment where “reach back” capabilities
are feasible or for forces in a garrison setting. The
TFAS initiative is fully engaged in the Combat Development System
process, working through and with Marine Corps Systems Command
to fully realize its potential.
Defense Integrated Military Human Resources System (DIMHRS)
(Pers/Pay) will be a fully integrated, standard military personnel
and pay management system for all DoD Military Service Components
during peacetime, wartime, and through mobilization/demobilization.
The military personnel component of Global Combat Support System
(GCSS), DIMHRS (Pers/Pay) will be an unclassified, C2 compliant
system encompassing the functional requirements from recruiting
through separation and VA affairs. Currently in
Milestone 0, DIMHRS (Pers/Pay) is expected to seek Milestone
1 approval early in 2000. Once fully deployed, DIMHRS is envisioned
to provide consistent processes and data across the Services,
eliminate redundant data capture, reduce multiple personnel/pay
systems and provide adequate security to the personnel/pay data.
Throughout the initial analysis for DIMHRS, MCTFS has withstood
tremendous scrutiny and remains the model for the new DoD system.
Numerous Marine Corps personnel are involved in defining DIMHRS
functional requirements to ensure current MCTFS capabilities
and our commitment to the commander, are kept at the forefront.
While DIMHRS provides an exciting opportunity, it will also
demand significant change for all Services, specifically in
Service-unique areas, such as recruitment. Budgeted at
$403M through 2005, DIMHRS is the largest attempted AIS within
While efforts are ongoing to significantly improve the manpower
and administration processes, two significant challenges remain.
The first involves DoD and public law requirements that still
require a Marine’s physical signature for legal documents.
Counseling entries and Records of Emergency Data, for example,
must be accompanied by a Marine’s own signature. Current
technology has not been successful in ensuring the validity
of an individual’s signature, nor has federal law allowed for
an electronic substitute. Until this challenge is overcome,
replacement of all paper forms, those primarily in the SRB and
OQR, will be virtually impossible.
Additionally, base and station infrastructures must be significantly
updated. Web-enabled applications are in high demand that
allow personnel data to be updated or accessed from virtually
anywhere. While this technology is readily available,
the technical infrastructure throughout the Corps is currently
unable to support that demand. Unfortunately, until
the architecture problems are solved and the “backbone” necessary
to support the available technology is in place, many advancements
will have to wait.
Information is recognized as a Marine Corps core asset and the
Information Management process is acknowledged as one of the
eight most important processes of the enterprise. MCTFS
is well positioned to support the tremendous opportunities envisioned
in the 21st Century. As personnel structure continues
to decline, it is imperative that technological advances be
made quickly in order to optimize administrative process improvement.
In the era of the new millenium, the MCTFS team stands ready
to ensure Commanders and their Marines are able to make accurate,
timely warfighting decisions.