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NEWS | Aug. 19, 2021

Army Reserve warrant officer pivotal in IPPS-A deployment

By Sgt. 1st Class Tony Foster 412th Theater Engineer Command

The vast majority of the U.S. Army and its components are familiar with pay and personnel readiness. They govern a Soldier’s rank, roles, responsibilities, compensation and means to support themselves and families. These systems require trained and proficient individuals to perfect and manage them to keep the force up-to-date and proficient.

U.S. Army Reserve’s Chief Warrant Officer 3 Heather R. Kerns, a 411th Engineer Brigade human resources technician, has dedicated herself since October 2018 to the Integrated Personnel and Pay System - Army (IPPS-A) implementation that will further refine and combine the programs that keep our nation’s mightiest asset moving forward.

“IPPS-A will transform the Army’s Industrial Age personnel system to a 21st century talent management system,” said Kerns. “It will integrate personnel and pay for all Army Soldiers, while delivering three primary capabilities: Total Force Visibility, Talent Management and Audit-ability.”

The Office of the Chief of Army Reserve (OCAR) assigned Kerns to the Business Systems and Architecture Division as a Test and Deployment Chief where she gained a comprehensive grasp on this revolutionary system and its workings.

“As a warrant officer, my specialty is understanding how our personnel and pay data enables our human resources and payroll business processes, especially for accessions, assignments, separations, retirements, component transfers and retirement points,” said Kerns.

With IPPS-A providing essential pieces of the puzzle, Kerns’ expertise, education and skills mirror the system’s features and facilities, as well as its depths.

“In my opinion, she is one of three key individuals that ensured IPPS-A product development supported Army Reserve Business Systems requirement,” said retired Col. Frank Pfau, former OCAR Business Systems and Architecture Division chief. “As a warrant officer, she demonstrated unparalleled leadership on multiple echelons within and outside the component, informing, educating and influencing peers, subordinates and senior field grade officers to participate and collaborate in IPPS-A development.”

Her knowledge base and experience as a subject matter expert (SME) was the standard to amongst her peers and supervisors. She was a definitive cog in the gears of IPPS-A.

“I was the Operations Officer for the Army Reserve Fort Belvoir IPPS-A team and CW3 Kerns’ rater,” said Lt. Col. Lashundra Ollie, 412th Theater Engineer Command deputy G-1. “She is willing to assist and take on roles beyond what is expected of her. She led the cutover planning with Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), outlining reporting options for critical benefit affecting transactions for active service for the U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard (ARNG).”

With IPPS-A being a multi-component system, Kerns’ participation, interaction and vantage point truly made her the correct leader to help bridge the gap of complete functionality.

“Working with our ARNG and Regular Army (RA) counterparts is always an opportunity for growth and understanding,” said Kerns. “We don’t get to work in a multi-component environment very often, and IPPS-A has provided an environment where all three components don’t just work together, but we get to help improve each other’s business processes, ultimately making our Army better through IPPS-A.”

According to Kerns, finding the middle ground where IPPS-A can either support the business processes of all three components or developing a system that supports all three processes has been a great and compelling challenge. Leveraging further knowledge of informational technology and backing from peers and subordinates catapulted USAR Soldiers like Kerns to fortify our fundamental foundations.

“CW3 Kerns has been the backbone and the unsung hero to the IPPS-A program,” said Ollie. “She is highly dependable and is by far one of the greatest assets that the Army Reserve has.”

Amidst 23 years of military service, extensive duty assignments, spanning from the Middle East to Europe and all parts of the United States, Kerns’ commitment to the Army and its newest web system attributes to her dedication to evolution and continuity of our formations.

“It is an exciting time in our Army Reserve when we get to be a part of such a groundbreaking endeavor,” said Kerns. “This is most certainly a team effort, and I look forward to continuing to work with Army Reserve Soldiers, HR professionals and leaders in the field to make IPPS-A Release 3 a reality.”