FORT KNOX, Kentucky (March 18, 2014) – U.S. Army Human Resources Command, or HRC, will train a cadre of Soldiers, April 13-24, and dispatch them across the Army to spearhead the implementation of a new Non-commissioned Officer Evaluation Report, or NCOER, system scheduled for roll-out this autumn.
“We’re on the cusp of implementing a new NCOER for the U.S. Army,” said HRC Commander Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mustion. It will be the first overhaul of the rating system in more than two decades, he said.
The changes to the evaluation system will enable leaders to more clearly assess and identify the Army’s best talent by eliminating inflation in the rating process and encouraging self-improvement, Mustion said. The goals behind the changes are to meet the chief of staff of the Army’s strategic priority to develop adaptive Army leaders for a complex world, he said.
HRC will implement the NCOER by ensuring mastery of its use across the Army and conduct pilot testing to refine the new system before its launch. Key objectives are teaching Soldiers to understand the three new NCOER forms and to master additions to the entry evaluation system, or EES, that will capture the changes.
“The first phase of training will occur on Fort Knox, where the HRC Evaluations Branch will train and certify 44 personnel who will serve as mobile training team, or MTT, members,” said Sgt. Maj. Stephen McDermid of HRC Evaluations Branch. The MTTs will be drawn from all three components: Active Army, National Guard and Reserve.
The lesson plan will begin with an overview of the new NCOER and evaluation policy updates, he said. MTTs will become experts on the structure and use of the three unique grade plate forms and assessment techniques that incorporate the senior rater narrative in the evaluation process. They will undergo instruction and practice on maintaining and forecasting senior rater profiles and operating within EES to create support forms and NCOERs.
McDermid said 75 percent of each trainee’s assessment will be based on hands-on use of the process and its tools. Instruction will include four practical exercises and a final assessment based on a written exam, hands-on performance and the delivery of a 45-minute briefing to demonstrate solid understanding of the NCOER and the ability to educate Soldiers in the field.
“They’ll have to be proficient with initiating, completing, and submitting the form to HRC for processing,” he said.
Once certified, the MTTs will travel to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where they will train more than 650 train-the-trainer Soldiers, known as TtTs, from across the Army between late April and the end of May. Once trained and certified, TtTs will return to their units and begin training the entire force, both Soldiers and civilians, to use the new NCOER, McDermid said.
“Training should commence in May and continue throughout the summer. That will be the initial phase. Because there are so many new concepts that are going to be addressed, there will be a need for refresher training even after we implement the NCOER,” he said.
Among the fundamental changes non-commissioned officers, or NCOs, will encounter are a move away from a single report form to a trio of reports based on rank, and a major focus on documenting accountability in the rating chain.
In terms of grade plate, raters will assess sergeants via a direct-level report, focused on proficiency and considered to be developmental. Raters will use an organizational-level report form to assess NCOs in the ranks of staff sergeant to first sergeant/master sergeant, and a strategic-level form for sergeants major and command sergeants major.
Mastering the additions to the EES will be critical, McDermid said.
“The EES is going to consolidate both the OER and NCOER for all components. With that, there will be two notable additions within EES for the NCOER. The first is the use of the rater tendency, which is going to be unconstrained and is going to be more of a ‘rater’s rating history’ of NCOs in a particular grade,” he said. It will be viewable by the rater’s rating chain, enabling leadership to provide guidance and mentorship to the rater in following Army guidance to assess more accurately.
The second major innovation will be the addition of a senior NCO reviewer delegate function. It will allow rating officials to identify up to two individuals – command sergeant major, sergeant major or first sergeant – to provide an informal review of all NCOERs.
“They’ll be able to review the reports and will have an online dialogue box where they can provide comments to those rating officials for their consideration,” McDermid said.
As trainers fan out across the Army to teach the new NCOER, HRC will coordinate and conduct system load testing at selected installations in late spring and early summer. Testing will allow HRC to identify issues and integrate refinements before the system is implemented across the Army. At this time, likely testing locations will be Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, SHAPE and Korea, though that is still open to change, McDermid said.
The final draft NCOER support form will be posted 90 days before implementation so that Soldiers across the Army can begin to familiarize themselves with the changes. “Rating officials can begin counseling and documenting the rated NCO’s performance,” he said.
“As of right now, the target date is Sept. 1, but as we get closer, we will publish more information to the field, informing them of the actual implementation date. If the actual implementation date is Sept. 1, then all NCOERs with a through-date of Sept. 1, or later, will be addressed on the new grade-plate forms. Reports ending Aug. 31 or earlier will still be processed under the current NCOER,” McDermid said.
“Probably the first board that will see these new reports will be the fiscal year 2016 Master Sergeant promotion board, which will likely convene next February,” he said.
The establishment of information technology systems, development of regulations and the implementation of the new NCOER through coaching, teaching and training the force is a tremendous effort, Mustion said.
“It will help us build an even higher quality non-commissioned officer force than we already have, and leverage talent management into the future, allowing us to reap great benefits across the Army for years to come,” he said.