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Marine Corps Total Force System:
The Workhorse for Personnel and Pay Throughout the Marine Corps

 

 
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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  our Marines.

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!

Current Capabilities
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.

History
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 required.

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.

Electronic Solutions
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.

The Backbone
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 DoD.

The Challenges
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.

MCTFS’ Future
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.


Email -- jdgrose115@polyglut.net
Web -- http://members.tripod.com/~jdgrose115/

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