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Air Force working to fix pay issues

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 19, 2004) -- In testimony before Congress on Nov. 18, the Air Force's finance director said there are issues with the service's pay system, but officials are tackling them.

Michael Montelongo, assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management, told the Senate Armed Services Committee subcommittee on readiness and management support that Air Force officials are using an approach similar to the Army’s to deal with pay issues involving reservists and guardsmen.

"(We are) bringing together the different (areas) involved in the total-pay process," Mr. Montelongo said. "We set up a (council) where we … work on three areas: integrating the people involved in the process, making sure our processes are as integrated as possible and doing some of the near-term fixes in our personnel (and) pay systems so that we mitigate ... pay problems."

These areas include the Air Force's personnel and finance communities and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Department of Defense-level agency responsible for paying every American servicemember.

In the past, pay issues have risen from disconnects between at least two of those areas -- those internal to the Air Force. Total money to an Airman, beyond base pay, is based on entitlements -- meaning a pay is calculated by actions taken by both the finance and personnel Airmen.

The failure of one to report in a timely manner to the other that an Airmen has been deployed could result in a pay issue.

Nevertheless, Air Force officials’ work to bridge the gap has alleviated some of the problems.

"While we still have some issues, we are managing those, and they are not at the alarm level," Mr. Montelongo said.

Also key is a push to accelerate implementation of the Defense Integrated Military Human-Resource System, he said.

It is intended to replace and combine older personnel and pay computer systems in the DOD and in the component services. It will eventually replace DFAS's Defense Joint Military Pay System and the Air Force’s Military Personnel Data System.