Legislation: Back Pay for Promotion Delay

NGAUS Washington Report
May 8, 2018

NGAUS expects bipartisan legislation to be introduced today in the House and Senate that would provide National Guard officers with back pay to the date of their state promotions once their boost in rank is recognized by the Defense Department.

It would also require the service secretaries to review the entire promotion process and recommend fixes that would prevent long delays between state promotions and federal recognition of those promotions.

The National Guard Promotion Accountability Act will be introduced by Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in the Senate. Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., are expected to sponsor the House version.

Guard officers often take on jobs of their higher rank following state promotions, but wait months for completion of the federal paperwork, which is when they begin receiving the higher pay. If Congress approves this legislation, officers still on the waiting list when the president signs it into law would receive the pay hike back to the date of their state promotions, which would become their dates of rank.

The pay would not be retroactive for officers already federally recognized when the law is signed.

“National Guard officers are 21st-century combat leaders saddled with a 20th-century promotion process,” said retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson, the NGAUS president. “The agonizingly long wait times hurt morale and contribute to some leaving the force. This legislation should help reform the process. Guard officers nationwide appreciate the sponsors’ recognizing the problem and offering these common-sense fixes.”

He pointed out, too, that NGAUS is the only military-service organization to take on the federal recognition process.

Under the current system, many Guard officers have waited more than six months for their promotion to be finalized. Defense Department data show that nearly 7,000 Guardsmen are currently cooling their heels and have been for an average of 285 days. In fact, the data also show that the fastest a promotion list, called a scroll, has been approved this year is 245 days.

This issue began receiving attention last fall after NGAUS officials heard about it from officers at various state association conferences. A survey conducted by NGAUS exposed the breadth of the problem and the association has made it a priority.

Warren, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, even questioned Army Secretary Mark Esper about it during his confirmation hearing in November.