NGAUS Applauds Introduction of National Guard Promotion Accountability Act

WASHINGTON (May 8, 2018) — National Guard officers may no longer have to wait 250 days or more longer for federal recognition of their promotions thanks to bipartisan bills introduced in Congress today.

The National Guard Promotion Accountability Act, which has the full support of NGAUS, would also provide Guard officers with back pay to the date of their state promotions once their boost in rank is recognized by their service, the Army or the Air Force.

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., introduced the legislation in the Senate. Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss., and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., are sponsoring the House version.

By law, the services must review and formally “recognize” state promotions of Guard officers. But the redundant, largely paper-and-pen process has been slowed in recent years by deeper background checks.

A NGAUS survey late last year found that 51 percent of Army National Guard officers waited 196 days or more for their “fedrec.” Current policy is to publish lists, called scrolls, within no more than 195 days of receipt.

And recent Pentagon data indicates that there are 7,000 Guard officers now awaiting federal recognition with an average wait time of 285 days. The data also show that the fastest a promotion list, called a scroll, has been approved this year is 245 days.

Meanwhile, many of these officers already have the responsibilities of someone one rank higher, which can be challenging while wearing the lesser rank.

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

The National Guard Promotion Accountability Act would:

  • Backdate the Date of Rank Upon receiving federal recognition, an officer’s promotion would be considered effective on the date at which it was recognized by the state. This would allow Guard officers to claim that time in grade at the higher rank, improving future promotion opportunities and making them eligible for back pay.
  • Impose Notification Requirements for Delayed Federal Promotion Recognition The Army and Air secretaries would be required to report on the status of promotion scrolls that exceed their target publication date and the reason for any delays, providing more transparency around the process.
  • Require a Report on Improvements to the Process The Army and Air Force secretaries must review their existing promotion review process and report to Congress with recommendations for improvements, including considering automation, additional delegated authorities or streamlining of existing steps.

Army Secretary Mark Esper is on record saying the fedrec process or Guard officer promotions needs fixing.

“The numbers are too long and unacceptable, and, frankly, in my time in the Guard, I had a similar action happen to me,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee in questioning from Warren last month.