News: IPAC: who’s pulling the strings?
Story by Cpl. Joseph Karwick
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan - Though all servicemembers must, at some point, meet with an administrative specialist, not all are familiar with what they do, don’t do, can and cannot do.
“We report entries into our system, which is the Marine Corps Total Force System,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sandy Alvarez, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron Installation Personnel Administrative Center director. “We go by manuals and we are not the deciding factor whether or not someone gets commuted rations or travel money for their dependents. That is something that needs to be approved by the command and Headquarters Marine Corps. As administrators we process paperwork, and I think that is the most common misconception when people think that IPAC is not fair. We simply go by what has been approved by the command and what has been annotated through certain regulations. We are never the deciding factor.”
When a servicemember gets an award or some achievement, he wants to make sure that it is annotated in his records. But, there are many rumors and stories about how "IPAC didn’t enter it in the system," "IPAC messed up my pay," these are common issues raised to the attention of the administrative specialists.
“Since most people don’t understand what we do or completely understand the systems and process that we deal with, they tend to believe that their problems are not going to be solved,” said Lance Cpl. Mason McGerry, H&HS IPAC administrative specialist. “Or something they did, a school or a course, won’t end up in the system to show that they did it. They come to us to reaffirm what they have been told or heard, stories of things not going into the system, which most of the time is completely inaccurate.”
Marines know accountability is of utmost importance, and stressed to all servicemembers from day one of recruit training.
“We provide administrative assistance and allow Headquarters Marine Corps the ability to keep track of all personnel,” said Alvarez. “As Marines check in, we make sure we get 100 percent contact with them to make sure all their paperwork is squared away. We even meet them at the terminal to establish that first contact.”
Of all the information provided by Alvarez, she stressed audits the most and how important it is to bring up-to-date information to the IPAC so there would be no future complications with pay, leave or any abnormalities in personal records, and to always keep in contact with IPAC should any questions arise or assistance needed.