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Navy Chief Selection Boards

(Note: The below article is from the Aug 97 edition of Navy "All Hands" Magazine.

The advancement system for senior enlisted personnel differs in significant ways from the system for junior personnel. Understanding the selection board process, the importance of your microfiche record and evaluations is the key to making the stem work for you.

If you are a petty officer first class, a chief or senior chief petty officer, then you have been, or soon will be, in front of an enlisted selection board. This chapter is designed to give you insight into the selection process and your advancement future in the Navy.

Composition of the board

Each selection board consists of a captain who serves as president, a junior officer from BUPERS advancement section, who serves as a recorder, and officers and master chief petty officers who serve as board members.

Additionally, a sufficient number of assistant recorders ensure the smooth handling of records. The exact size of a board varies, but each board usually consists of about 78 members. The board meets in Washington, D.C., and officer board members are generally drawn from the D.C. area. The enlisted members are usually from out of town.

The recorder, assistant recorders, officer of the Chief of Naval Personnel (CNP) enlisted advancement planner and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy may consult with the entire board on any matter concerning selections. With the board president's concurrence, the recorder divides the board members into panels, which are responsible for reviewing the records of individuals in one general professional area, i.e., deck, engineering, medical/dental, etc. Each panel consists of at least one officer and one master chief.

Quota requirements and restrictions

A maximum select quota for each rating is established by BUPERS planners and is provided to the board. This quota is filled by the "best-qualified" candidates.

Quotas may not be exceeded, but may remain unfilled if the panel determines there is an insufficient number of best-qualified candidates in a rating.

Advancement throughout the Navy is vacancy driven, but several factors are taken into consideration when establishing quotas.

Current inventory

Current inventory is defined as the number of personnel on board vs. the Navy requirement for a rating. Only 3 percent of the Navy's total end strength may be senior and master chief petty officers.

Losses reflect the personnel who will be leaving a pay grade during the phasing cycle, e.g., Fleet Reserve, medical discharge, limited duty officer/warrant officer selectees, demotion or death.

Gains reflect those who will enter a pay grade during the phasing cycle, such as voluntary recall to active duty and those remaining to be advanced from the previous cycle. Phasing cycles are September through August for E-7 and July through June for E8/9.

Growth is the number which reflects projected growth of the Navy's authorized allowance during the phasing cycle.

Funding authorized

The number of personnel the Navy may pay as authorized by Congress.

Early selectee quotas

DOD has established the Total Active Federal Military Service (TAFMS) requirement which is to be met prior to a member's advancement to a given pay grade. TAFMS requirements are 11 years for E-7, 16 years for E-8 and 19 years for E-9.

DOD has made provisions for "early" advancement. An early advancement candidate is one who does not meet the TAFMS minimum service requirement. No more than 10 percent of the total number of Sailors in the E-7/8/9 pay grades may have less than the prescribed TAFMS, so the number of early selectee quotas available to the selection board is limited to a percentage of the total selectee quota. BUPERS planners inform the board what percentage can be early and still allow the Navy to meet DoD restrictions.

The percentage is an overall board figure, not a quota by rate. Some panels may recommend for early selectees, and other panels may recommend more selectees, based on the average time in service for each rating, which varies yearly.

General guidance to the board

The selection board is convened by the CNP. Each year an instruction, called a precept, is prepared for the board. It outlines the selection process and gives general guidance to the board regarding such selection criteria as equal opportunity considerations. The precept varies only slightly from year to year. An oath administered to board members and recorders on convening is contained in the precept. The precept also outlines the expected conduct and performance of persons serving with the board.

Upon convening, the board establishes internal ground rules and minimum selection criteria, which each member uses when screening the records of candidates. The rules/selection criteria are applied equally to each candidate within a rating. Application may vary slightly from rating to rating for many reasons, such as sea duty or lack of it, supervisory opportunities, schooling availability, rotation patterns, etc. The board is given the freedom to establish its own internal procedures, within the guidelines of the precept, thereby providing for the dynamic nature of the selection process.

The proceedings and recommendations of the board may not be divulged except as authorized and approved by the CNP.

What the board considers

Each rating is given to its respective panel by the board recorders. There is a folder for each candidate with his or her fiche record (1E and 2E fiche only), any correspondence sent by a candidate and received by the board before it convenes and an enlisted summary record.

Each record is then reviewed by a panel member. Evaluations covering at least three years are reviewed, although more often, five years of evaluations are examined. Depending on the closeness of the competition, panel members may go back further to establish performance trends and to break ties.

Once the entire rating has been reviewed the first time, the process starts again, and each candidate gets a second review from a different panel member. If there is a significant difference between panel member assessments, a third member reviews the record.

Listed below are some of the factors considered by the E-7 and E-8/9 boards. These considerations change only slightly from year to year, but should not be considered the only factors affecting selection:

  • Professional performance at sea. While it is not necessary that a candidate be serving in a sea duty billet when the board convenes, it is desired that his or her record reflect demonstrated evidence of professional and managerial excellence aboard at sea or at isolated duty assignments.

    It is recognized that some ratings do not offer a broad opportunity for sea duty, particularly at senior levels, and this is taken into account.

    Additionally, while a variety of duty assignments, especially sea duty, is highly desired to give an individual professional breadth, an individual having less variety but more demanding tours may be equally qualified. Sailors assigned to priority billets ashore or overseas will not be hurt.

    Candidates presented to the board compete within their ratings. It is recognized that they are frequently detailed to duty outside their rating specialties.

    Many such types of duty require selectivity in assignment and special qualifications. Therefore, due consideration is given to those candidates who have served demanding tours of duty as instructors, recruiters, career counselors, recruit company commanders, duty in the Human Goals Program and all other tours requiring special qualifications.

  • Education. This includes academic and vocational training, whether such education is gained as a result of the individual's initiative during off-duty hours or as a participant in a Navy-sponsored program.

  • Evaluations. Evaluation marks and narratives are closely reviewed and a trend is identified. Marks and narrative must correspond on evaluations.

    The single-most important factor influencing selection is sustained superior performance. The summary ranking also gives the board an indication of how the candidate compares against members of the same pay grade at his or her command. Personal decorations, letters of commendation or appreciation, etc., are given consideration. Command and community involvement also reflect a well-rounded, career-motivated individual.

  • Duty assignment history. Assignments and history of duties performed are determined from the service record transfers and receipts page, and the job description on the evaluations.

    This data shows board members whether or not the individual is performing duties commensurate with his or her rate and if expectations of professional growth are being met.

  • Do you meet Navy standards? Failure to meet the Navy's physical readiness test and percent body fat standards can hinder an individual's selection opportunity.

    Advancement will not be denied solely on the basis of prior alcoholism or alcohol abuse, provided the member has successfully participated in a treatment and recovery program. Any misconduct or reduction in performance resulting from alcoholism or alcohol abuse is considered in selecting members for advancement.

    Individuals who have had disciplinary problems, received a letter of indebtedness or have other record entries relevant to behavioral difficulties such as drug abuse or have demonstrated racial, sexual or religious discrimination, will find the path to E-7/8/9 more difficult than those with clear records.

  • Test scores. Scores for E-7 candidates are also taken into account since they give the individual's relative standing on the examination compared to other candidates.

The process

Once the review of the entire rating is completed, the panel arranges all the candidates from top to bottom. This is called slating. At this time, the panel decides where the cut-off will be for people who are appropriate for promotion and recommended selectees.

Once slating is completed, the entire board is briefed on the rating's structure, its job, peculiarities, number of candidates and the backgrounds of those people recommended and not recommended for selection.

During this briefing, no names are used. This prevents any bias for or against candidates by board members who know them. The entire board votes on the slate, which must be accepted by a majority of the board.

During the course of a board's deliberations, some records may clearly indicate substandard performance or in the board's judgment, questionable advancement recommendations. In these cases, the board is directed to those candidates by name, activity, reporting senior and concise summary of circumstances. Depending on the circumstances, such candidates either will be referred to the quality control review board or the commands will be identified to senior echelon commanders for any action deemed appropriate.

After all the ratings have been completed and approved by the board, a NAVADMIN is prepared to announce the selectees. Prior to its release, a written report of the board's recommendations is signed by all members and submitted to the CNP for approval. The report must certify that the board complied with all instructions in the precept, and the board carefully considered the case of every candidate whose name was furnished for review.

Improving your chances

The Sailor who decides early to make the Navy a career and immediately starts "turning-to" on the job will get a head start with selection boards. Here are some things you can do to improve your chances before the board.
  • Sustained superior performance is the single most important factor influencing your advancement opportunities.

  • Get a copy of your microfiche service record from BUPERS and ensure it is up-to-date. This is very important! Do this at least six months prior to the board convening and at least once during each enlistment.
Note to E-8/9 candidates: Ordering your microfiche record after November may delay placement of your latest evaluation on the microfiche master. Place your order prior to November.

The address for requesting a free copy of your microfiche is: Commander, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Attn: PERS 313C, Navy Department, Washington, D.C. 20370-5312. Submit your request on NAVPERS Form 1070/879. The use of this form is outlined in NAVMILPERSCOMINST 1070.2, or send a letter of request including your complete name, Social Security Number and return address. Be sure to sign your request. For further information, call DSN 224-2858 or (703) 614-2858.

It should take about six weeks to receive the microfiche. When it arrives, look it over carefully, making sure your name and Social Security Number are correct on each microfiche. Then start reviewing the contents of the record, making sure that each document is yours.

Updating your record

If you find errors or documents missing from your microfiche, you need to send a correction package to BUPERS. If you are board eligible, you should also submit a duplicate package to the board.

Review your record to determine which documents are missing or are in error. Include all missing evaluations and only those qualifying documents from your previous enlistments that are missing. Remember, letters of commendation or appreciation after 1976 or letters designating collateral duty assignments do not go in the microfiche record.

Ensure that each document is legible and that your name and Social Security Number appear on each. Outline any other errors found in your record on a letter of transmittal and mail it to Commander, Bureau of Naval Personnel, Attn: PERS 313C, Room 3032, Navy Department, Washington, D.C. 20370-5312.

Selection board package

Correspondence may be submitted by a candidate directly to the selection board president. Your package must reach the board prior to the established deadline.

This correspondence is reviewed by the board along with the service jacket. This package should contain the same documents asabove, plus any other appropriate materials from your current enlistment.

If you desire confirmation of receipt of your package by the selection board, be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or postcard. Documents submitted to the board will be reviewed with your record and then discarded upon adjournment of the board. They are not forwarded for filming and entry in your record. Send this package to: President FY__ E-7 or E-8/9 (as applicable) Selection Board (active) Bureau of Naval Personnel, Attn: PERS 313C, Navy Department, Washington, D.C. 20370-5221.

Preparing for the exam

Now is the time to start studying for the E-7 exam, even if you don't plan on taking it for a year or so. Keep notes on changes that occur in your rating, and when you are eligible for the exam, get a bibliography and study the materials listed there. Your exam score counts! The E-7 pay grade is considered to be the senior "technical" rate in the Navy, and no plans are afoot to eliminate the professional test which qualifies selection board eligible candidates.

A NAVADMIN message announces the Navywide advancement examinations prior to each cycle. Don't take someone else's word for it, read the notice and familiarize yourself with all applicable advancement requirements.


The importance of the enlisted evaluation cannot be stressed enough.
  • Keep a personal record of your accomplishments throughout the evaluation period. When you are asked for input to your evaluation, submit NAVPERS 1616/21 summarizing your activities for the year. You shouldn't depend on your reporting senior to remember everything you did all year because he or she may have a large number of people to evaluate.

  • Address your accomplishments. Be sure your input addresses all accomplishments you feel are significant. Input should be factual and provide enough detail so, when your input is translated into a smooth report, there is little chance that pertinent information will be omitted. The goal of the evaluation is a comprehensive and objective analysis of you and your performance.

  • Be specific. Ensure that your input appears in the smooth report as clearly depicting specific accomplishments. Flowery generalities can weaken your evaluation.
What constitutes a well-written evaluation? It is surprising the large number of petty officers who have not had the opportunity to write enlisted evaluations. It is important to the career development of seniors and their subordinates that all personnel know what constitutes a well-written evaluation. Junior personnel cannot be expected to become proficient in this area if not properly trained.

Below are the composite comments of recent selection boards regarding writing evaluations:
  • Do not waste narrative space about how well the ship did on deployment, inspection, Battle "E" award, unit commendation, etc., but tell exactly what jobs the individual had and how well those assigned tasks were performed.

  • Eliminate all flowery adjectives about what a great person the Sailor is and get to the point in "plain English" regarding how he or she accomplished the job.

  • More emphasis should be placed on the individual's ability, potential and willingness to accept positions of leadership. Why should an individual should be advanced?

  • Ensure that all collateral duties, awards, education, qualifications, etc., are listed.

  • If an individual is ranked lower or higher than the majority of his or her peers, tell why in the narrative.

  • Evaluations submitted as "special," without solid justification and obviously intended to provide another set of marks for the board, are not viewed positively. Evaluation marks going from 3.8 to top 4.0 between September and February, without some strong reasons, do little for the member and can reduce the reporting senior's credibility.

Proofread your evaluation

Ensure that your evaluations are properly typed, and your Social Security Number is right. Be sure there are no misspellings or other clerical errors. Remember that you are going to sign your evaluation, and clerical errors are as much your fault as your command's. Make sure your evaluation covers the correct time period.

Ensure that all special goals, schools, duties, outside activities, community involvement, etc., are included on evaluations for the period involved. Include any awards and letters that you received during the reporting period.

Have a good working knowledge of the master chief, senior chief and chief petty officer selection boards.

This knowledge will enable you to make correct career decisions and provide you with a practical and constant goal of achieving sustained superior performance. Working toward this goal will build a better Navy and a better career for you.

U.S. Military

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