The Army's long-standing policy of masking junior officer evaluation reports once an officer is promoted to captain or chief warrant officer three has been deleted by Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

The new policy is now in effect, and applies to officer evaluation reports that are submitted to Human Resources Command for filing in an officer's personnel file, which officially is called the Army Military Human Resources Record, or AMHRR.

Before July 1, HRC officials will move all previously masked reports to the performance section of the AMHRR, which routinely is included in the documents packet seen by promotion, school and command boards.

Masked reports are maintained in the restricted section of a file, which normally is not seen by boards. The masking process was adopted nearly 20 years ago so that officers would not be penalized late in their careers for black marks or mediocre ratings they received as lieutenants or WO1s while they were adjusting to military life.

McHugh said the policy change is needed as the Army returns to the competitive, best-qualified promotion selection method that was in place before the rules were relaxed for the buildup for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"As we move from fully qualified to best qualified selection boards, Army officers must clearly demonstrate intellectual, moral and physical characteristics that indicate the potential for enduring service in the profession of arms," McHugh said in his Jan. 30 directive.

"Elimination of the masking process supports transparency and improves the accuracy of an officer's file, over the course of the entire career, in making personnel management decisions for the individual officer and the Army as a whole," said the secretary.

The new provision will not apply to the documents packet viewed by centralized selection boards that convene before July 1 for Regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve officers, according to the implementing order issued Jan. 30 by McHugh.

Promotion boards meeting before that date include Army Competitive Category panels for colonel, lieutenant colonel and major, the reserve component Army Promotion List major board, and the annual selection boards for active and reserve senior chief warrant officers.

The masking policy for lieutenants and junior warrant officers (grade WO1) has been in effect since the fielding of the DA Form 67-9 OER in 1997.

The 67-9 was replaced by DA Form 67-10 in April, and the new policy applies to masked reports under both systems.

Once they passed through the crucible of their first centralized competitive promotion — either captain or CW3 — those reports would be placed in the restricted section of the file where they would not be seen by the highly competitive field-grade boards.

The no-masking policy also will be reflected in the new NCO Evaluation Report that is tentatively scheduled for fielding later this year.

In designing the new NCOER, officials had considered, but rejected, a proposal that would have required all sergeant-level ratings to be masked when a soldier is considered by centralized boards for promotion to sergeant first class and above.