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Enlisted evaluation, promotion systems to use new EPR forms, forced distribution, stratification restrictions

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Personnel experts from Headquarters Air Force and the Air Force Personnel Center visited Peterson Air Force Base June 22 to conduct Enlisted Evaluation System and Weighted Airman Promotion System changes town halls. Included were leadership briefings and questions and answer sessions on the changes to the EES.

With static closeout dates for each rank in place, the Air Force announced it will update the enlisted performance report forms and use new forced distribution and senior rater stratification restrictions to round out the incremental changes to enlisted evaluation and promotion systems with performance as the driving factor in promotions.

For technical sergeants and below, forced distribution limits the top-two promotion recommendations a commander is authorized to give to promotion-eligible Airmen. The restrictions under forced distribution are tied to historical promotion rates in each grade designed to ensure those Airmen receiving a top tier promotion recommendation have a distinct advantage for promotion. The total number of forced distribution quotas is based on the total number of promotion-eligible Airmen a commander has in a specific grade on the SCOD.

"The revised enlisted evaluation system provides rates with meaningful feedback on rater expectations, a reliable, long-term cumulative record of performance and a clear indication of their promotion potential," said Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, Headquarters U.S. Air Force. "With nearly 90 percent of Airmen receiving 'truly among the best' assessments, a better means of identifying the top performers was absolutely necessary."

New regular Air Force promotion eligibility cutoff dates for promotions to master sergeant and technical sergeant took effect this past fall to correlate with the new SCODs and in support of the master sergeant promotion process and forced distribution requirements scheduled for implementation beginning November 2015.

Airmen who are not eligible for promotion on their EPR static closeout date will receive an assessment of performance without a promotion recommendation.

"This is one of the key steps we need to take to truly ensure performance counts and that the promotion system is about performance first," said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody. "There has to be a level of discernment when it comes to promotions; this gives us the tools to do just that."

For senior NCOs, stratifications restrictions will limit the number of stratifications a senior rater may give to their master sergeant and senior master sergeant promotion eligible populations. Endorsement by senior raters will be restricted beginning with senior master sergeant EPRs closing out in July 2015. Senior raters will be restricted to endorsing only the top 10 percent of their master sergeant promotion-eligibles for promotions to senior master sergeant, and the top 20 percent of their senior master sergeant promotion-eligibles for promotions to chief master sergeant.

The forced distribution process was built with similarities to the senior airman below-the-zone promotion process. There will be large units, with enough Airmen to earn outright promotion allocations, and small units which will roll-up nominated promotion eligible to an Enlisted Forced Distribution Panel led by the senior rater.

Once the EFDP selects the eligible who will receive the top promotion recommendations, the remaining eligible will receive outright promotes. Airmen receiving "promote" recommendations from the EDFP or directly from their unit continue to have significant opportunities for promotion as overall promotion percentages exceed the allocations controlled under forced distribution.

Although changes to the EES are a total force initiative, the Air Reserve component will not enforce forced distribution across their junior enlisted promotion eligible grades. However, both the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard will use senior rater endorsement restrictions across the senior NCO grades.

Airmen with questions can visit the Air Force Personnel Center website or myPers.