What is it with these people?
THOUSANDS of servicemen and women, including many fighting on the front line, are being underpaid because of failures in a new computerised pay system.
Some soldiers have gone without full pay for up to five months and, with Christmas only weeks away, are being forced to turn to regiment hardship funds to cover household bills.
Special forces operating in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as ordinary soldiers have been hit by the fiasco. For some officers, it is costing £580 a month.
This weekend the Ministry of Defence admitted that more than 16,000 members of the forces were underpaid in August, the latest month for which official data is available.
So they\’re actually admitting (and thus we can expect the true number to be much higher) that some 10% of staff were underpaid. Yes?
Two-thirds of an entire intake of officers who graduated from Sandhurst three years ago are still being paid their junior rank despite being promoted – an underpayment of £19 a day or £580 a month.
It is not only full-time soldiers but also reservists who have been affected. The chaos is such that thousands of soldiers have also been overpaid, with the money having to be clawed back. Many have spent the money unaware that they would have to repay it, leaving them short of money. According to the MoD, a total of 38,529 were wrongly paid between April and August, the only months for which the ministry has full figures.
Now it\’s 20% wrongly paid?
The computer system, known as Joint Personnel Administration (JPA), was introduced in March last year in the Royal Navy and saw a flood of complaints from sailors not being paid their full pay. The RAF was taken on to the system in October last year, followed by the Army in April this year. The £250m system was implemented by EDS, which was widely criticised for its computerisation of the Child Support Agency.
Can one of you technical people out there tell me something? Payroll systems are somthing that the computer industry has pretty much got licked, aren\’t they? They\’ve been around for a few decades and there are companies of the same sort of size as the Armed Forces (150,000- 200,000 people or so) that manage to get it right, aren\’t there? So two questions: is £250 million over the top or about right for such a system? And, is this the normal sort of chaos or is it worse than normal (or even better)?
One of the key problems with the system is that it requires senior officers to log in to authorise payments, which means that if they are away on operations, the whole procedure grinds to a halt. “The system is based on the design for a civilian pay system and takes no account of the complexities of the armed forces pay system,” one officer said.
Or is that actually the fault: bad design to start with?