Admin Debacle Excludes 85 NCOs From Promotion Board, AFPC Blames the Victims

Air Force Times ran a story Friday (“Eighty-five tech sergeants’ EPRs not submitted for promotion process“) detailing the latest downhill tumbling snowball of human resource clownery in a service that works in it like an art form.

Summarizing: 85 members of the spine of the Air Force — interminably task saturated, hard-working contributors to its meat-and-potatoes mission — did their jobs. At the end of the reporting period, someone else did not do his or her job, and as a result, the performance reports for these 85 were not uploaded into their personnel files in a timely manner. Rather than hit pause on the promotion process and hunt down the derelict reports, masterminds at AFPC pressed ahead with the board, excluding the unlucky 85 and consigning them to a “supplemental board” in the … wait for it … spring of 2016. But just to make sure their wounds would sear with sufficient inflammation, the Air Force got out a huge shaker of salt and set about rubbing it in with sanctimonious statements about how their awesome system works and it’s everyone else’s fault when it malfunctions.

Frankly, I lack the energy to fulsomely recount this parade of imbecility, and it doesn’t really deserve a recounting. Aside from pointing out the irony of the number 85, matching as it does the IQ of whoever dreamt up the currently shambled and shameful yet shameless administrative “system” of the USAF, I’ll settle for pointing out the ninja-level jackassery of two statements given to the Times by the Air Force in its attempt to “explain” this mistake.

Both of these explanations are total bullshit.

An airman’s commander is responsible for submitting EPRs to the electronic system.

Submitting, yes. But commanders without support staffs rely on base agencies over which they have zero authority and less than zero influence to fulfill this task for them, creating an endless follow-up loop that further strains mission focus given the lack of said support staff.

Even commanders lucky enough to have support staffs aren’t off the hook once they hit submit, because reports don’t go directly into the system at that point. They’re first reviewed at base-level by an MPF and then again at AFPC. These two queues create bottlenecks that move reports through the electronic wickets like so much digital molasses, and that’s when a paper clip hero bucking for a(nother) Bronze Star doesn’t kick back a report because of a one-digit miscalculation in days of supervision or some other monumental error. Oh, and good luck trying to raise anyone on the phone or via email to actually determine where in the queue a given report is sitting. They don’t know. They don’t care. And as far as they’re concerned, it’s not their responsibility.

However, the airman is ultimately responsible for making sure that all the information in his or her records is accurate and loaded correctly, said Paige Hughes, a spokeswoman for AFPC.

This is one of those “raise your watch because it’s getting deep in here” bullshit statements that crystallizes the divide between mission hackers who understand the meaning and nature of teamwork and denizens who roam around in cubicle farms, as aloof and clueless as they are removed from military reality. It’s complete and utter garbage, this.

First of all, either the commander or the airman is responsible. Not both. Hughes’ additional statements try to make everyone from the individual to the senior rater to the postman to the Avon Lady responsible. This is the kind of equivocation that serves as a barrier to culpability, which leads to constructive rehabilitation and improvement. It explains why AFPC gets continually worse instead of turning things around.

Second of all, airmen have zero ability to get their reports finished, submitted, or uploaded, and that’s exactly as it should be. They have the responsibility to do their jobs, provide information to their raters for the drafting of a report, and a responsibility to check the system and ensure the report made it (there’s that un-resourced follow-up requirement again), letting someone know if it’s not there in time or contains errors. That’s called due diligence. That’s what subordinates owe supervisors, and nothing more.

Pawning off on the Air Force’s NCOs the duty to ensure their own bosses do their freakin’ jobs … just the latest example of AFPC and A1 imperviousness to common sense or accountability for even the clearest of mistakes. Making ratees a formal part of the evaluation process by having them sign reports was supposed to be a way to verify accuracy and prevent supervisors from shirking the duty to inform subpar performers of a lukewarm or unfavorable report. Under the current leadership, it didn’t take long for this to become a liability hook upon which to hang ratees any time an administrative problem arises with their own reports. 

In this case, 85 NCOs get to wait until spring to find out if they already earned a promotion. And whose fault is it?

Theirs, of course.


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