Career Navigator: So Long, ACRB—Sort Of

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Phased rollout of IPPS-A starts with U.S. Army Reserve.

by Steve Stark

Beginning in the third quarter of fiscal 2019, perhaps as early as August, the Acquisition Career Record Brief (ACRB) will begin its long ride into the sunset.

The ACRB’s departure—partial for now; the change immediately affects only the U.S. Army Reserve—comes as the first ripples from the Army’s phased rollout of the Integrated Personnel and Pay System – Army (IPPS-A) begin. The rollout will continue with the Army National Guard, and then the active-duty component, which doesn’t use the ACRB. Eventually, the massive IPPS-A will replace all of the current, stovepiped systems that originally made the ACRB necessary.

The Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems has made IPPS-A’s rollout deliberate and painstaking, using each phase to improve it. As might be expected from a system that eventually will contain the records of multitudes, establishing it is “hard work,” said Col. Greg Johnson, IPPS-A’s lead for the Functional Management Division of the Army G-1 (Personnel)­—and that may be understating the magnitude of difficulty.

“We’re undoing 40-plus years of nonintegrated systems, no software growth and no adherence to authoritative data,” he continued. “IPPS-A’s progress is getting right at that problem set and synchronizing HR [human resources] data across the total force. We need to do this not only to make the system work, but also to set the foundation for using HR data to transform [IPPS-A] into a talent management system. We can’t get there until we clean up the data.”

For now, civilians and most of the Army National Guard will continue using the ACRB.

NERDY DETAILS

Active-duty Soldiers either have an Officer Record Brief (ORB) or an Enlisted Record Brief (ERB). These records of Soldier activities are actually brief. They contain where the Soldier has been stationed, rank, promotion, education and other particulars of a Soldier’s service. They’re used throughout the military, not just the Army.

But because the National Guard and Reserve components didn’t use the same system (the Total Officer Personnel Management and Information System [TOPMIS]) to manage ERBs and ORBs, the Army created the ACRB. Acquisition civilians also use the ACRB to have a record that parallels that of their military counterparts. And while TOPMIS feeds automatically into the Career Acquisition Personnel and Position Management Information System (CAPPMIS), the systems that the Guard and Reserve use do not.

What that’s meant for National Guard and Reserve Soldiers is that they’ve had to record separately the data in their ORB or ERB in their ACRB. That will no longer be the case for reservists, as of approximately August or September of this year. Guardsmen and -women will have to wait a bit longer, as will the active-duty Army, while IPPS-A continues rolling out.

If that weren’t sufficiently chaotic, those in the Reserve component who also are civilian acquisition professionals will still have the ACRB until every Army employee has rolled into IPPS-A, as will all of their civilian colleagues.

IPPS-A is crushing a lot of stovepipes. Indeed, Johnson said in an email exchange with Army AL&T, IPPS-A will subsume more than 30 systems and eliminate more than 300 interfaces. IPPS-A will reduce complexity, as well, with 154 business processes across all three components shrunk to 34.

ORB AND ERB EXTINCTION

But wait! There are more extinctions coming. The ORB and ERB are also headed toward extinction, as IPPS-A’s outward ripples continue. IPPS-A will replace them with the Soldier Record Brief (SRB).

“The Army is pursuing a three-in-one solution with the SRB,” Johnson said, “meaning that all three components, enlisted and officers, will all have the same standardized document to display their career information. The [Army National Guard] will be the first component to use SRB live in the system during our Release 2 fielding. As we define the design and build of Release 3,” he continued, “the program is working on a prototype of the new talent profile which will incorporate 25 talent areas and provide a holistic view of Soldiers’ skills and abilities.”

Which could mean, despite its name, that the Soldier Record Brief won’t actually be brief because, unlike its predecessors, it’s going to have a lot of detail that will provide a good deal more value to the Army.

“The SRB is an incremental step toward larger talent management efforts,” Johnson said. “The talent profile that is currently being developed in partnership with HRC [the U.S. Army Human Resources Command] and the Army’s Talent Management Task Force will describe every Soldier’s talents at a granular level and piece together data elements across five domains: knowledge, skills, behaviors, experience and readiness. The talent profile will contain more than twice the data elements that are currently collected in our legacy systems.”

Civilians, Johnson said, are not currently incorporated into IPPS-A’s design. If that changes, then a similar talent profile would have to be developed to meet that cadre’s needs.

CONCLUSION

So, what does all of this mean for those with an ACRB? For most, not a lot—just yet. But for those who will be directly affected by the phased extinction of the ACRB, it will be a big deal.

Those affected will still have a CAPPMIS account to access and edit the individual development plan, maintain continuous learning points and keep a record of all acquisition courses completed. Because the ORB and ERB will go away with the rollout of IPPS-A, users will want to make sure that the information contained in their ORB or ERB is reflected in CAPPMIS. And accurate ORBs or ERBs should translate to accurate Soldier Record Briefs.

That shouldn’t be a burden on anyone, just something to watch. The transition will reduce data repetition, eliminate the need to proactively update the ACRB and save time to focus on other priorities.

For more information, contact Lt. Col Ryan Leonard, USAR, at ryan.d.leonard.mil@mail.mil or 703-664-5719; or Lt. Col. Teresa Childs, Army National Guard, at teresa.e.childs.mil@mail.mil or 703-664-5722.


This article is published in the Summer 2019 issue of Army AL&T magazine.

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