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New OER on track for Dec. 1 launch

Rating forms for cols., 1-stars await approval

May. 16, 2013 - 07:46AM   |  
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FORT KNOX, KY. — A new Officer Evaluation Reporting system remains on schedule for launch in December, although an important component of that system, a rating form for colonels and brigadier generals, remains a work in progress.

Key features of the new system are separate report forms for company-grade officers in the ranks of lieutenant, captain, warrant officer 1 and chief warrant officer 2; a field-grade report for majors, lieutenant colonels, chief warrant officer 3 through 5, and strategic-level officers in the ranks of colonel or brigadier general.

Major generals, lieutenant generals and generals will not be rated under the new system, which will be launched simultaneously in the Regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve.

The Army has developed draft versions of the company- and field-grade forms, and those documents are believed to be at or near their final design, according to Brig. Gen. David K. MacEwen, the adjutant general of the Army.

The design of the strategic-level report has yet to be approved by senior leaders, such as the secretary of the Army and chief of staff, but officials believe a draft version should be available for training purposes by late summer or fall.

“We strongly believe that three sizes fit better than one, and we just want to make sure we get it right for the strategic-level officers,” MacEwen said.

The new system is scheduled for fielding Dec. 1, and personnel officials fully expect that the supporting regulation and field manual will be available for the Army-wide training campaign that will be launched late this summer.

Under that campaign, Human Resources Command will dispatch mobile training teams to stateside and overseas installations and commands.

MacEwen said the training will be relatively straightforward, except for the big changes in store for officers who serve as raters.

These officers, who will focus on performance rather than potential, never have had to manage a profile in which they were required to identify and rank-order their best officers.

MacEwen said the automation and software for the new system will not allow raters to misfire by putting more than 49 percent of their rated officers in the top box, or “excels” block, of the performance evaluation. The same concept has applied to senior rater “box check” potential evaluations for several years.

Other features of the new and evolving system include:

■The OER Support Form is being redesigned, but a final version has not yet been approved by senior leaders.

“I don’t think there is much controversy there at all, and I think we’ll get a decision on the Support Form at about the same time we get a decision on the strategic level form,” MacEwen said.

The support form, used by rating officials to counsel officers about priorities during the upcoming rating period, will be required for all officers in the ranks of colonel or below. Under current policy, the form is optional for officials in the rating chain.

■Implementing policies for the new OER will try to reduce some of the intermediate rating associated with the current system.

“Right now, there are cases where intermediate raters could be senior raters,” MacEwen said. “What we’re saying is that an officer’s next-level supervisor after the rater should be the senior rater.”

MacEwen said exceptions will be made for the special branches, such as the health services corps, chaplaincy and Judge Advocate General’s Corps, because their organizations and chains of command are so different from the basic line branches.

“The intermediate raters for those branches provide a kind of technical check in the evaluation process,” he said.

■The Army will allow extensions to certain annual reports so that only one report will be required during an assignment.

“Statistically, the frequency of reports has not changed over the past 10 years, but there are spikes during a typical assignment,” MacEwen said. “For example, if an officer has 16 months remaining with his current rater, that will generate two reports — an annual at 12 months, and another for the remaining months of the assignment. We’re going to allow extensions to the annual so only one report will be required.”■

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