By Jane M. Winand, Legal Assistance Attorney
It is frustrating and unfair to get an adverse evaluation report that fails to reflect your good performance during the rating period.
Furthermore, such an adverse evaluation report in your record could affect your ability to secure a promotion in the future.
The Army’s Evaluation Report Redress Program exists to address and, hopefully, resolve inaccurate or unfair information in a Soldier’s Evaluation Report.
The rated Soldier may seek to address the inaccuracy in several ways.
Read your evaluation report carefully before signing it. If you catch a clerical, administrative or substantive error before the report is signed and submitted, immediately bring it to your rater’s attention to get it corrected. Otherwise, once your evaluation has been signed and submitted, it is assumed to be accurate and you must pursue a formal appeal to attempt to correct the record.
It is important to address problems with your evaluation report as soon as possible. Special options are available to respond to referred and relief for cause evaluation reports. There are different time limitations for different kinds of appeals.
Furthermore, the availability of supporting people and documents generally declines as time advances. Witnesses may forget information that could be crucial to the success of your appeal.
A rated Soldier may request a Commander or Commandant’s Inquiry. Such an inquiry is voluntary and not a prerequisite to a formal appeal. In this inquiry, the rated Soldier, or anyone with access to the Soldier’s evaluation report, may raise issues of error, injustice or illegality with the Soldier’s commander or commandant.
The inquiry is to be conducted by a commander higher in the chain of command than the rating officials.
The final results of the inquiry must be in the form of a memorandum and include specific findings, conclusions and recommendations. A copy of the inquiry must be forwarded to the Soldier.
If the inquiry discloses error or fault in the evaluation before it has been forwarded to Department of the Army headquarters, the commander will return the inquiry to the applicable rater for appropriate action. The amended report will then be sent to HQDA.
If the inquiry found fault but the evaluation had already been submitted to HQDA, the inquiry will be forwarded to HQDA to be filed with the evaluation report.
Once a report has become a permanent part of the Soldier’s record, the appeals process is the primary method of addressing errors. Successful appeals are supported by sufficient evidence. Allegations of inaccuracy, without more evidence, are rarely successful.
The Soldier bears the burden of proof for his appeal. To succeed, the Soldier must establish clearly and convincingly, by appropriate statements, documents or other evidence, that the evaluation is inaccurate or unjust in certain respects.
In deciding whether to appeal an evaluation, it is important to consider what evidence you have to support your position, and what evidence you may be able to gather.
Examples for structuring and formatting appeals are available in DA PAM 623-3. Claims of substantive error, including bias, discrimination, inaccurate or otherwise unjust evaluations, are reviewed by the Army Special Review Board, or ASRB, which is comprised of officers and noncommissioned officers.
If deemed appropriate by the ASRB, HQDA will amend the evaluation record. If the appeal is rejected, the Soldier may either choose to gather additional evidence and submit another appeal, or submit an appeal to the Army Board for Correction of Military Records, in accordance with AR 15-185.
For more information on addressing errors in evaluation reports, consult AR 623-3 and DA PAM 623-3.
If you would like to meet with an attorney to discuss your options, call the Fort Meade Legal Assistance Division at 301-677-9504 or 301-677-9536 to schedule an appointment.
The Office of the Staff Judge Advocate is located at 4217 Morrison St., first floor.