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Personnel data system upgrade smooth, uneventful

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- One week before the end of March, in the middle of a war, the military personnel data system underwent a major database upgrade -- and nobody noticed.

"After some of the things we've gone through that made MilPDS almost a four-letter word throughout the Air Force, this is an important accomplishment," said Col. Anna Rivers, director of personnel data systems at the Air Force Personnel Center here.

"It was a quiet behind-the-scenes victory," said Maj. Gen. Tom O'Riordan, center commander. "Our folks did a huge amount of work getting ready for this so that everyone in the field wouldn't have to skip a beat, and we were very sensitive that Air Force people are busy fighting a war."

"This is just what we want -- a personnel data system that seamlessly and reliably acts as the backbone for the Air Force," he said.

The general said success will be measured when field commanders' attitude toward the system is "benign indifference," when they do not have to think about it and instead can focus on their mission.

"We're one step closer to that," he said.

"Without this and future upgrades, all we might have left, after bringing MilPDS online, is an instant 'legacy' system," said Rivers.

Upgrades are necessary to avoid having the new system become obsolete before it is even two years old, "which is what we faced without an upgrade," she said.

The "last sigh of relief" came after making it through the heavy end-of-the-month transaction period "without a hitch," despite major updates including pay and promotions, officials said.

"With this upgrade, no news is good news," O'Riordan said.

What was different this time from the launch of MilPDS in June 2001 was better teamwork and more deliberate testing, Rivers said.

"We ran thousands of tests before making the database changes, and we were confident of success," she said. "Otherwise, we wouldn't have gone ahead with it in the first place." (Courtesy of AFPC News Service)

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