WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 27, 2015) -- On Jan. 1, the Army will have a new tool to promote, retain and assign its noncommissioned officers, or NCOs: an upgraded NCO Evaluation Report, or NCOER.
The current NCOER, which has been in use since 1987, is "outdated, highly inflated and too generic, meaning one NCOER fits all NCOs, regardless of rank, position or level of responsibility," said Sgt. Maj. Stephen McDermid, Evaluations, Selections and Promotions Division sergeant major at Human Resources Command, or HRC, on Fort Knox, Kentucky.
The new NCOER will address four key areas:
First, the new NCOER will capture "attributes and competencies" from Army Doctrine Publication 6-22 "Army Leadership," he said. That means the evaluation will align with the Army's effort to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex and uncertain environment by requiring NCOs to take on greater levels of responsibility, with increasing levels of skills and competencies.
A second important aspect of the new NCOER is that it will "enforce rating official accountability through the use of two new assessment tools, which is the rater tendency and the senior rater profile," McDermid said, meaning that senior raters will be limited to the number of Soldiers they deem "most qualified."
In a nutshell, this will address one of the biggest drawbacks of the current NCOER: inflation, or the tendency of raters to rate most or all of their Soldiers at the highest levels. The current practice makes it nearly impossible to separate stellar performers from average or good performers, he said.
Third, the new NCOER will take into take into account increasing levels of responsibility as Soldiers progress through the NCO ranks, McDermid said.
Specifically, the NCOER will come in three versions tailored to three levels of rank, or grade plates:
- Department of the Army Form 2166-9-1 for E-5s - with focus on "direct-level" proficiency rating.
- DA Form 2166-9-2 for E-6 to E-8 with focus on "organizational-level" expertise.
- DA Form 2166-9-3 for E-9s with focus on "strategic-level" competency.
David Griffee, chief of the Evaluations Branch at HRC, said a fourth benefit of the new NCOER will be getting leaders "talking to their people, telling them how they're doing and providing effective feedback."
That will result in leaders "being able to coach, teach and mentor what right looks like. As the Army executes the counseling in a better manner, we think we should see improvement in performance across the board," he said.
Griffee said that since Soldiers are counseled about what's expected of them near the start of the reporting period, and at intervals throughout the reporting period, there should be no surprises when the final report is made.
Leaders have a responsibility too, he said.
"Leaders should take the time to develop their rating philosophy so they are familiar with what most qualified looks like in actions, competencies and in performance," Griffee suggested. "Once you have your rating philosophy, stick to it."
While the new NCOER doesn't go into effect until Jan. 1, there are important interim dates to keep in mind as the Army transitions to the new system, McDermid said, adding that there's a possibility the dates could change slightly due to unforeseen circumstances.
On Oct. 27, Military Personnel Message 15-340 was published announcing the fiscal 2016 master sergeant board and the NCOERs that need to be completed for that board.
The MILPER directs that "those who receive a mandatory report between September and December will continue to receive that report, whether it's an annual, extended annual, or change of rater report," McDermid said. "In the event the NCO who's eligible for this board does not receive a mandatory report, then they will receive an HRC-directed Code 19 Evaluation with a through date of Dec. 31, 2015. This will ensure those individuals eligible for that board receive a close-out evaluation."
Griffee said the reason for the MILPER is "so there's no confusion over who gets a look and who doesn't, especially because the implementation date of the new NCOER is so close to the convene date. A conscious decision was made to ensure everyone competing for the master sergeant board is on same playing field."
McDermid said a second MILPER will be released by HRC around Nov. 3, providing information about the impending release of revisions to Army Regulation 623-3 and Department of the Army Pamphlet 623-3 "Evaluation Reporting System." These publications will specify the nuts and bolts of how an NCOER is to be executed.
McDermid said Nov. 10 will mark the date that the newly revised AR 623-3 and DA Pam 623-3 should be published on the web and available to the field. The NCOER forms will also be available on the Army Publishing Directorate website on that date.
Griffee said that "for a short period of time, we'll basically have two regulations on the street," meaning the current versions of AR 623-3 and DA Pam 623-3 that will be valid through Dec. 31, as well as the new versions published Nov. 10, which while valid as well will not go into effect until Jan. 1.
"They're out there for Soldiers to review and become familiar with as the Jan. 1 date approaches," he said.
On Dec. 10, the Evaluation Entry System, or EES, the web-based system used for the creation and submission of the NCOER and support form, "will go live so the field will be able to create the new NCOER, populate the system and the form itself, in preparation for the Jan. 1 implementation," McDermid said.
As the new NCOER takes effect, Griffee noted that it may take about three or four years to build up the metrics on rater tendency and the senior rater profile, making the NCOER more robust as a tool for selection and promotion as time passes.
TRAINING FOR NCOER
McDermid said train-the-trainer training for the new NCOER began in April at HRC, followed by sessions on Fort Jackson, South Carolina. That effort led to about 600 certified train-the-trainers who fanned out across all commands and components.
Training is also available online for those who've been unable to meet with a certified trainer, he said. "We highly encourage Soldiers to review it." Detailed training modules have been posted to the HRC Evaluations Branch website as well as S1NET and are available for download on DVIDS.
The online EES test site allows Soldiers to create the NCOER and support form as well, and leads individuals through the process, section-by-section, in an easy-to-understand manner, McDermid said.
Griffee said thus far feedback from the field during the training process regarding the new NCOER has been good. "A lot of NCOs are saying 'it's about time,'" that a more effective NCOER has been produced.
He noted that the Officer Corps has had an evaluation report similar to the new NCOER for about 18 years.
One other change Soldiers will see on the new NCOER form will be the use of Department of Defense identification, or DoDID, numbers in place of social security numbers. The DoDID, which appears on Soldiers' Common Access Cards, is being phased in as part of the federal government's effort to remove social security numbers from as many documents as possible, Griffee said.