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Phased rollout to improve enlisted evaluation system

Chief Master Sgt. Brandy Petzel leads a forum Sept. 17, 2014, during the 2014 Air Force Association Air & Space and Technology Exhibition in Washington, D.C. Petzel is the Air Force chief of enlisted force policy and spoke about the need to overhaul the enlisted evaluation and promotion systems. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

Chief Master Sgt. Brandy Petzel leads a forum Sept. 17, 2014, during the 2014 Air Force Association Air & Space and Technology Exhibition in Washington, D.C. Petzel is the Air Force chief of enlisted force policy and spoke about the need to overhaul the enlisted evaluation and promotion systems. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force chief of enlisted force policy outlined the implementation of the new enlisted evaluation and promotion systems at the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition here Sept. 17.

Developed in 1968, and implemented two years later, the existing Weighted Airman Promotion System has been in use for nearly 45 years without any significant changes, said Chief Master Sgt. Brandy Petzel.

“We are a force that thrives on innovation,” she said. “We have made amazing strides (in technology and aircraft development) … (now) our enlisted force deserves a (new) generation promotion and evaluation system — because we’re a completely different force than we were in 1970 when we were over a million strong.”

Petzel reported a staggered implementation timeline, which recently went underway with the announcement of static close-out dates for technical sergeants.

With the 2015 promotion cycle, changes to enlisted performance report point calculation and time-in-service requirements will be implemented to ensure duty performance is the primary factor in enlisted promotions — something Petzel said should be good news to all Airmen.

“Your sustained superior performance is going to count and you’re going to have to be on your game year after year — regardless of whether you’re going to be promotion eligible or not that year,” Petzel said. “That’s exciting to me.”

In July 2014, Petzel said the Air Force began testing the new chief master sergeant EPR, to be followed by the new senior enlisted evaluation form.

“It has been nearly 25 years since we transitioned from the airman performance reports (APRs) to the EPR,” Petzel said, “and to effectively change promotions we had to change the way we capture and assess performance.”

Another major transition for senior enlisted Airmen, Petzel said, is the addition of a master sergeant evaluation board.

“Promotion to master sergeant is a huge thing — you’re entering the senior NCO corps,” she said. “To do that, however, we’re going to have a few new tools … so we’re going to institute what we are calling a ‘hurdle,’ to capture the top 60 percent, by Air Force specialty code, who will move forward from phase one of the process, which will mirror current testing procedures, to phase two, where an evaluation board similar to our boards for master sergeant and senior will establish a board score. An Airman’s board score will replace their phase one EPR points and the end result will be their final WAPS score.”

In fall 2015, the new Air Force Form 910 for technical sergeants and below will introduce forced distribution, she continued.

Forced distribution will also limit evaluation inflation, Petzel said. This will enable supervisors and commanders to more accurately document subordinates’ performance without fear of unintentionally damaging Airmen’s career progression.

Specifically, there will be a limit on the number of top promotion recommendations a commander can provide on reports for technical sergeants and below, Petzel added. For senior NCOs, there will be a limit on the number of master and senior master sergeants who receive stratification and senior rater endorsement.

To assist commanders and supervisors, the recently released Airman Comprehensive Assessment aims to improve communication and clarify expectations between evaluations.

“We need to be honest with our Airmen and accurately capture performance (so they) know where they stand—which will correlate over to their evaluation,” Petzel said. “If you are intimately familiar with the ACA, you already have a pretty good idea of what the new EPR is going to look like, because they complement each other.”

While some may be naturally apprehensive, Petzel said leaders and Airmen at all levels should have confidence and trust that the coming changes deliver exactly what the force has been requesting for a number of years.

“This is going to change the way we look at promotions,” Petzel said. “It’s the right thing to do for our Air Force … and as an enlisted corps we should embrace those changes.”

As the chief, enlisted force policy, directorate of Force Management Policy, deputy chief of staff, manpower, personnel and services, Petzel interprets and develops enlisted personnel policy for the Air Force and more than 405,000 total-force enlisted members.

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