FORT KNOX, Ky. (Aug. 11, 2015) -- It could happen to you. You get a negative Noncommissioned Officer Evaluation Report, or NCOER, but you think it will not have a long-term effect on your career. After all, each of your previous NCOERs has been pristine.

However, some time later you get a notification memorandum advising you will be considered by the Qualitative Management Program, or QMP, board for denial of continued service, and you begin to worry about your future in the Army.

The following article provides an overview of the QMP process, explains why the Army has such a program, to whom it applies and to whom not, and provides a few tips on how to respond to notifications.

Why does the Army employ QMP?

The purpose of QMP is to enhance the quality of the career enlisted force, selectively retain the best qualified Soldiers while denying continued service to nonproductive members, and to encourage Soldiers to maintain their eligibility for further service.

Negative information that prevents promotion in a Soldier's file directly conflicts with the Army's philosophy that Soldiers acquire a successful military status. Acquiring a successful status shows a commitment to the United States, to the Army, to the American people and to fellow Soldiers. The idea is, those who cannot meet that standard should leave the Army.

To whom does the QMP process apply?

QMP boards are normally held in conjunction with senior NCO selection boards and consider Regular Army and U.S. Army Reserve Active Guard Reserve, or AGR, Soldiers in the ranks of staff sergeant through command sergeant major (E6-E9) for possible involuntary separation.

NCOs are considered for denial of continued service under one of three circumstances.

• U.S. Army Human Resources Command, or HRC, receives negative material for inclusion in a Soldier's Army Military Human Resource Record, or AMHRR. That material can include a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand, or GOMOR, a court-martial, an Article 15, a negative NCOER, or Service School Academic Evaluation Report indicating Noncommissioned Officer Education System, or NCOES, failure.

• The Army's deputy chief of staff, G-1, or designee, approves a request from the Soldier's commander with General Court-Martial Convening Authority, or a referral to a QMP screening board from the HRC commander or his designee.

• The NCO fails to qualify for promotion consideration to the next grade without completing the appropriate level of NCOES training within 48 months of promotion.

To whom does the QMP process not apply?

NCOs in the rank of staff sergeant and sergeant major or command sergeant major (E6-E9) are not subject to QMP if:

• They have an approved retirement.

• They were previously retained on active duty by a QMP board, as long as no new basis for QMP has been documented since the earlier determination.

• They hold the rank of sergeant major or command sergeant major and are within two years of the retention control point for their rank.

• They are promotable to the next higher grade when the basis for the QMP consideration was filed in the AMHRR and was included in the official file seen by the promotion board.

HOW TO RESPOND TO NOTIFICATIONS

Soldiers subject to denial of continued service under QMP will be notified of their status through their chain of command. The notification memorandum will identify the basis for referral and inform the NCO of his or her right to submit mitigating matters to the president of the QMP selection board within 30 days.

Once notified, the Soldier has several options.

• Submit a request for voluntary retirement, if otherwise eligible, in lieu of facing the QMP board.

• Submit documentation to the board president addressing the NCO's potential for continued service.

Documentation may include letters of support from the Soldier's peers or chain of command. The Soldier must note that he or she cannot appear personally before the QMP board.

Once a rebuttal option is selected and a rebuttal packet submitted - and for those Soldiers who choose not to submit matters to negotiation - the board will review the file and consider several factors. These may include the Soldier's moral and ethical failures; his or her future potential for performance of duties; declining efficiency and performance over a continued period of time; discipline problems; or other derogatory factors such as a failure to meet height or weight standards or the Army Physical Fitness Test, or the imposition of a field commander's bar to re-enlistment.

The QMP board will then consider the Soldier's overall AMHRR and any matters of mitigation submitted to the board and render a decision.

If a board decides the Soldier will be denied continued service, the Soldier can appeal. However, appeal matters are limited to newly discovered evidence, the subsequent removal of documents from the Soldier's AMHRR, or material errors in the Soldier's record that were reviewed by the QMP screening board.

The Soldier must then send a notice of intent to appeal to HRC within seven days of receipt of the QMP board results, and must submit the appeal itself to his or her immediate commander within 30 days of receipt of the notification memorandum.

Soldiers with questions about QMP boards and their response options can turn to their installation staff judge advocate or Legal Services Office for information and guidance.