FORT BENNING, Ga. — Beginning April 1, officers from across the Army will be subject to a new officer evaluation report, or OER, system.
The new system will increase rater accountability and reflect current Army leadership doctrine.
One of the changes in the new system is the inclusion of three different forms, or “grade plates,” with each being aimed a different subset of the officer corps.
The company-grade plate will be used to evaluate company-grade officers, warrant officers and chief warrant officers two. The field-grade plate will be for field-grade officers and chief warrant officers three through five, while the strategic leader plate will include colonels and brigadier generals.
In addition, the check boxes used to evaluate an officer will be overhauled. Instead of the previous categories that included “outstanding performance, must promote,” “satisfactory performance, promote,” and “unsatisfactory performance, do not promote” raters will now use boxes marked “excels,” “proficient,” “capable” and “unsatisfactory.”
However, raters will maintain a profile that will track their ratings and will not be allowed to rate more than 49 percent of their officers using the “excels” box.
Maj. Nate Forrester, part of a Human Resources Center mobile training team that visited Fort Benning Jan. 6 – 10 to train officers on the new OER system, said the rater profiles will help to more clearly identify the officers who stand out from the rest.
“Previously, raters could present every single one of their officers as the best,” Forrester said. “Now, we’re limiting not only the words they can use, but forcing that rater to put a mark in a box and confirm that a batch of officers is in the top 50 percent of their pool. They have to identify more clearly that center mass population.”
Raters will begin their profile with a credit of three “proficient” ratings, meaning he or she could rate his or her first two officers as “excels” before a third “excels” rating would exceed the 49 percent mandate.
In the event that the 49 percent cap is exceeded, the OER will be automatically processed with a “proficient” label. The rater and the senior rater listed on the report will be notified of the mistake and the report will process accordingly.
Meanwhile, senior raters will see fewer changes, as senior raters have long managed their senior rater profiles.
For the most part, those profiles will carry over to the new system and will not restart. However, senior raters of colonels and above will see that portion of their profile reset.
Along with that reset, the four check boxes used to rate colonels and above will be labeled “unsatisfactory,” “retain as colonel,” “promote to BG” and “multi-star potential.”
Much like the raters, senior raters will be prohibited from rating more than 49 percent of officers as “promote to BG” or higher. They will also be prohibited from rating more than 24 percent as “multi-star potential.” Also, the total “promote to BG” and “multi-star potential” cannot exceed 49 percent when combined.
Senior raters will be granted a credit of five “retain as colonel” ratings to begin their profile.
In addition to the nomenclature and profile changes, Forrester said the new system also places a greater emphasis on intangible leadership qualities such as character.
“As an Army and officer corps, we are shifting from rating officers just strictly based on what they’ve done to looking at the total officer picture,” Forrester said.
“We’re looking at character, at how he leads and how he mentors subordinates, so hopefully we will get a much better picture of each officer from this new OER so that we can identify the best and brightest officers for continued service.”
Despite the changes, Forrester said the goal of the OER remains the same — to identify the best officers in the Army.
“There’s nothing really different in the philosophy — we’re still rating officers based on their performance and what their potential is because the goal of the OER is still to identify the best officers and use that as a tool so that the Department of the Army and Human Resources Command can potentially assign them to specific broadening jobs, operational jobs and nominative jobs,” Forrester said. “The goal of the OER hasn’t changed. We’re changing a little bit of the concept of how we evaluate these officers. The core leadership competencies and attributes are now what we are evaluating these officers on, both on their potential and their performance during the rating period.”
For more information on the new OER process, go to www.hrc.army.mil/.