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Personnel training teams visiting bases

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Help is on the way for Military Personnel Data System users, which should lead to better customer service for airmen and commanders, according to an Air Force Personnel Center official here.

Six-person training teams from the center are traveling to every base in the Air Force.

"We're training each (military personnel flight), some commander support staffs and the co-located Guard and Reserve units to improve the effectiveness of MilPDS," said Capt. Andrew Doane, MilPDS traveling team chief. "The best way to see how we can help is to go where the actions are taking place."

Feedback from the bases seems positive so far.

"I am so glad these guys took the time to come here and provide us with this service," said Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Evans, chief of personnel employments and relocations for the 56th Mission Support Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. "It's valuable and will save the Air Force money and time down the road."

Previous MilPDS training efforts failed, said officials. The previous method, called train-the-trainer, was to train a few people from each base who were to go back and teach their co-workers at their base.

"We thought it would work. It didn't," said Col. Gary Smith, chief of the field activities division here. "So we simply dedicated considerable time and money to make it right and in the process we're able to put the 'field' back in field activities."

MilPDS, the Air Force's human resources data system, was launched in June 2001. Since that time, numerous problems from accessions and re-enlistments to retirements and separations have plagued its success and significantly hindered the services normally available through the MPFs, said AFPC officials.

"Many personnelists at the bases got justifiably frustrated with MilPDS in the beginning and decided to use their own work-around," said Doane. "We can show these folks that our programmers have made the necessary fixes, and they should go back to using the system as their normal routine."

Training was lacking up and down the system at the MPF and CSS level for those working with the system every day, officials said.

Training is also lacking at the basic personnel officer's course, "and we just recently added MilPDS to the enlisted curriculum," said Doane. "While the folks at the MPFs are already doing a great job with what they were given, we're able to offer some good tips to help them make their jobs easier."

"It's been fruitful for my folks and will add to their fire," said Capt. John Devillier, military personnel flight commander at Luke AFB. "We can tell them the importance of their job and the big picture of personnel until we're blue in the face. But when these experts from AFPC come out here, and (base airmen) hear it from the horse's mouth, that's critical to our mission."

There are other benefits of the hands-on training.

"We are able to look at what's going on at the base level and see things we may never see at AFPC," said Tech. Sgt. Ronald Taylor, a systems expert with the AFPC team. "When we identify these types of problems, it not only helps the MPF folks out there, but we're able to make fixes for MPFs across the Air Force."

"That holds true for good programs also," said Doane. "If we see something that's working well at a base, we'll pass it along as 'lessons learned' for others to use. We're spreading the wealth of knowledge."

The teams have visited about 30 MPFs so far.

"We'll be traveling a lot over the next year, but it's crucial we do this," said Doane. (Courtesy of AFPC News Service)

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