WASHINGTON — In an effort to prepare Soldiers to move to its new Integrated Pay and Personnel System - Army, the U.S. Army is mandating all Soldiers on long-term active-duty orders be paid on a semimonthly schedule, starting Oct. 1.
The vast majority of the Army’s Soldiers on active-duty orders of more than 30 days, either in the active or reserve components, get paid semimonthly on the first and fifteenth of each month.
However, approximately 11,000 Soldiers, who previously opted to be paid only once per month, will be moved to a semimonthly schedule to standardize the Army going into the new fiscal year.
This change will impact approximately 2.3 percent of Soldiers, including 1.5 percent of enlisted Soldiers and 5.5 percent of all officers.
“IPPS-A is based on commercial, off-the-shelf software used by many civilian companies for their human resources and payroll needs, and it can only handle one pay schedule, one way of paying employees,” said Hans Kennedy, U.S. Army Financial Management Command Senior Financial System Analyst. “As we move forward with IPPS-A’s implementation, we have to move everyone onto a standardized schedule.”
While the change will impact the number of times these Soldiers get paid each month, it won’t change the total monthly compensation for Soldiers.
“It’s important to know that when this goes into effect, the Soldiers who are being switched to semimonthly aren’t going to miss out on a payment, and they aren’t going to have to stretch out their money in order to cover their bills because of this switch,” said J.D. Riley, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff G-1 Personnel military pay deputy. “In fact, they will get paid for the first half of each month roughly two weeks earlier than they had been prior.”
“For those transitioning, they’ll receive their normal paycheck on Sept. 30, which will pay them for Sept. 1-30,” explained Sgt. Maj. Julie Harris, USAFMCOM Operations senior enlisted advisor. “Then, they will receive their first mid-month paycheck on Oct. 15, paying them for Oct. 1-15, and then their Oct. 30 paycheck, paying them for the rest of October.”
Army G-1 and USAFMCOM leaders both said the pay schedule change Oct. 1 is being implemented well ahead of IPPS-A’s Release Four, which will transfer military pay into the integrated system, in order to make the long-term transition easier.
“This is the lead up to the many changes that are coming to better serve Soldiers and their families under IPPS-A, which will allow Soldiers to better serve themselves on their mobile devices,” Kennedy said. “Once IPPS-A is fully implemented, Soldiers will be able to make changes and track personnel and pay transactions in real-time from any device anywhere they have internet connectivity.”
“The Army is changing with the times, but changing in a way that supports our Soldiers and families,” Riley added. “We wanted to lean forward with the pay schedule change because we know that change is hard for a lot of people, but if we can do this gradually as we get closer to IPPS-A Release Four, we can minimize the impact to our military Soldiers and families having to make multiple changes all at once.”
Prior to the implementation of the currently-used Defense Joint Military Pay System in the 1990s, service members were paid via check at the end of each month.
“After DJMS, Soldiers had the option to get half of their pay on the fifteenth of each month, and many chose to go that route to get their pay early,” recalled Kennedy, a retired Army Finance Corps command sergeant major. “A lot of Soldiers liked the change to semimonthly because it closely approximated the every-two-weeks of pay that the civilian world received.”
Still, some Soldiers didn’t make the switch, and DJMS allowed others to opt into being paid once at the end of each month.
“DJMS, while it was a great system that had a lot of benefit for our Soldiers at the time, is based on old technology by today’s standards,” Riley concluded. “With this change, we are moving toward IPPS-A, a system that is more auditable, more secure and more transparent.”