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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Nov. 2, 2020

Providing guidance for enlisted advancement

By Lt. Cmdr. Walter Krolman, EPM-3

Enlisted members now have a headquarters branch dedicated to help them with advancement and assignments and to support their professional growth.

The Enlisted Evaluations Branch (EPM-3) was stood up in 2018, and is now at full capacity – helping the Coast Guard’s 31,000 enlisted members properly document their professional development as they advance through the ranks.

The program started as an effort to simplify the system. The Personnel Service Center (PSC)-Enlisted Personnel Management (EPM) division wanted to make sure each category in in the Enlisted Evaluation Review (EER) accurately reflects the advancement requirements.

The EER as a whole is now more compact – some of the marking categories and comment sections have been eliminated. And just as importantly, there is now a PSC branch tasked with validating their quality.

“The review in 2014 helped us establish a much-needed quality control mechanism and simplification of the EER, concentrating how to better capture leadership and performance characteristics,” said Capt. Charles Fosse, PSC-Deputy and original member of the Integrated Project Charter Team that created the branch. “By doing this, we ensure fairness through the evaluation process impacting our members’ ability to advance.”

EERs can now be quality checked for required information, which in turn makes the assignment and selection process more accurate.

“When we have evaluations that are either poorly crafted or that do not comply with Coast Guard policy, they provide very little input for those deciding where our members will be assigned next,” said Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas Corns, EPM-3 Assistant Branch Chief. Stronger EERs show “who is better qualified for a job when that person goes before a board, such as the officer in charge boards or executive petty officer boards.”

Since January 2020, EPM-3 staff reviewed over 49,000 EERs, according to Chief Petty Officer Elias Schawohl, EPM-3’s yeoman. “Of the reviewed EERs in 2020, 23.4 percent were returned to commands for not complying with Coast Guard policy,” Schawohl said. That’s 11,466 enlisted members who will benefit from more accurate reviews.

Yes, that’s a high return rate. But PSC staff believes that it will decrease over time. “EPM-3 exists to educate members and their commands, not just review EERs,” said Capt. Johnathan Carter, EPM division chief. The team has conducted 79 training sessions to help educate unit commands over the past two years. “Through these unit and member interactions, I expect the EER discrepancy rate to trend downward while the quality of EERs continue to trend upward.”

EPM-3 recently helped prepare records for the first Master Chief Advancement Panel, which took place from Aug. 24 through Sept. 4, 2020.

“This pioneering panel designed to select the best qualified E8s to the grade of master chief petty officer could not have occurred without a formal quality control branch within EPM,” said Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath, PSC Commander. “I expect continued dividends from the EPM-3 team as they engage with commands and the enlisted workforce, and as the Service seeks innovative ways to select men and women to serve in the Coast Guard’s senior enlisted corps.”