Career Navigator: Where is the What?

In the absence of a single, unifying intranet, knowing where to find key resources is the next best thing.

by Mr. Steve Stark

When I came onboard as senior editor of Army AL&T magazine and a government employee in January 2016, I was surprised by just how different being a civil servant was from being an employee of private industry, even though I’d worked as a government contractor for almost 15 years. One of the biggest differences in the federal workplace is the lack of an employee intranet. For many companies, the employee intranet is very literally where everything is or is connected to. “There are a lot of resources,” Craig Spisak, director of the Army Acquisition Support Center, told me. “You just have to find them.” He could not have been more right. In fact, I wasn’t aware of many of these resources until I started researching this.

Company directory? Time charging? Webmail? Job openings? Training? Retirement? Holiday calendar? Benefits? Company policies, ethics and code of conduct? Knowledge management? Capabilities, from skill sets to technology centers? Travel? Company news? In the companies I’d worked for over the last 20 years, it was all on the intranet, a website owned and operated by the company exclusively for the use of employees and of significant benefit to the company itself. A well-run and -maintained intranet is a wonderful resource.

Army Knowledge Online has certain intranet qualities, but the sheer size of the Army, with the vast diversity of employee roles, organizations and missions, makes it an unwieldy resource as an intranet replacement. In fact, to use it that way would be next to impossible.

It’s not an all-or-nothing issue, however. There are a number of well-designed, useful (and in some cases, indispensable) web resources available to the Army Acquisition Workforce to help them stay on top of their careers. So, in an effort to pull together some of the sites that civilian workforce members need to know and use, here is a short list of highly beneficial links.

At the top of the list are the milSuite Civilian HR site (https://www.milsuite.mil/book/community/spaces/Civ-HR) and the Army Civilian Personnel Online (CPOL) site (https://acpol.army.mil/ako/cpolmain). The latter is, as it promises, “a one-stop site that provides access to all the information you may need as a civilian personnel employee.” It replaced http://cpol.army.mil/index.html, which ceased to exist as of Oct. 1. The milSuite Civilian HR site offers many of the same links as CPOL and may eventually replace it. It provides a host of resources that a private-industry employee might find on a company intranet, from time-charging on ATAAPS (DOD’s Automated Time Attendance and Production System) and pay stubs (MyPay) to the Defense Travel System and retirement (the Thrift Savings Plan), plus a whole lot more. It’s not perfect, but it’s an excellent resource. And it’s easy to make suggestions to improve it because of milSuite’s interactive features.

Virtually all of the linked sites there require a Common Access Card (CAC) to log in. MilSuite requires registration, but it’s open to those who have a DOD CAC through a simple process. MilSuite uses the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), which serves military members, retired service members and their dependent family members, among other beneficiaries, to validate users before creating an account—so, if you’re in DEERS, you should have no problem. And milSuite offers a great deal of utility to users, with interactive functions far too numerous to mention here.

Army acquisition personnel should also have the website of the U.S. Army’s Office of the Director for Acquisition Career Management (DACM) at the top of their bookmarks list. Go to http://asc.army.mil/web/dacm-office/ for Army acquisition career-related information, including the DACM News and links to several career management sites, notably the Career Acquisition Management Portal (CAMP) to manage official records and apply for certification, the Army Training Requirements and Resources System (ATRRS) to register for Defense Acquisition University (DAU) training, and the DAU iCatalog to find certification and training requirements and courses.

Finally, there’s webmail via Microsoft’s Outlook web email app. Go to https://web.mail.mil to check your email. You’ll need your CAC. While you’re there, send us links that you find particularly useful so that we can add them to our repository on Army AL&T News online at ArmyALT@gmail.com.

MR. STEVE STARK is senior editor of Army AL&T magazine. He holds an M.A. in creative writing from Hollins University and a B.A. in English from George Mason University. In addition to more than two decades of editing and writing about the military, science and technology, he is, as Stephen Stark, the best-selling ghostwriter of several consumer health-oriented books and an award-winning novelist.

 

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