The RAF has declared it will have its stalled human resources computer systems fully operational by the end of the week, seven weeks after it went live.
But the MOD still has to determine what the problem was before it can guarantee that the Joint Personnel Administration system (JPA) can be rolled out on schedule to the Army and Navy later this year.
The HR system, installed by EDS, has only been able to manage taxiing speed while engineers figure out what went wrong.
Wing Commander Trevor Field, a RAF spokesman and administrator, said he was unhappy with press interest in the delay and "bored" RAF "whingers" on chat sites like the Professional Pilots Rumour Network (PPRuNe), which he said make things appear worse than they are.
"It adds fuel to a fire that is now smouldering, and by the end of the week will be solved completely," he said.
EDS and RAF staff are also trying to figure out why JPA was unable to cope with its inaugural workload, Field said. It was supposed to allow personnel to do their own "self-service" HR administration, but the system buckled with the effort of servicing them. That meant they had trouble checking their personal information to ensure the system did what it ought to on their behalf.
Approximately 1,000 personnel subsequently had problems with the basic payroll, which Field said involved less than 0.2 per cent of a £1.2m payroll. In addition, 1,100 people had their flight pay missing on the first run in April.
It is not known how many people encountered other payroll problems involving the many other types of RAF allowance, such as that provided for overseas work. Neither is it known how many personnel were affected by non-payroll related issues, such as problems booking leave, or correcting errors in their details in the system.
The JPA should reduce the incidence of errors in the system. But until they finger the underlying problem there can be no guarantee that the introduction of the HR system into the Army and Navy will not be put back again.
Army and Navy implementations of an HR computer system by EDS may face further delay after an earlier installation of the same software put a spanner in the works for the RAF.
The RAF system was originally meant to go live in December. The Navy was meant to go live last month, while the Army was scheduled for October, according to targets agreed with the Treasury and 10 Downing Street in the MOD's 04-06 Partnership Agreement.
The deadlines were later set, in the Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency Corporate Plan for 2005-06, at August and December for the Navy and Army respectively.
They slipped again, however, in February, when it was determined that the Navy would see the system working by November and the Army by March next year, a year behind schedule.
Wing Commander Field could not say whether the MOD would seek compensation for the delay from EDS, despite a recent application for compensation from the supplier for MOD delays that impacted another EDS project, the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII). ®