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My Coast Guard
Commentary | June 28, 2024

Coast Guard corrects errors that caused cancellation of May exams

By Kathy Murray, Senior Writer, MyCG

The Coast Guard has corrected the issues that led to cancellation of the May Servicewide Exams (SWE) and beefed-up quality assurance to ensure that the upcoming August make-up exams—and all future SWE—are properly vetted for errors. 

The service is also moving up its transition to electronic testing, which would make the annual process more efficient and less prone to human errors. The goal is to conduct beta tests of E-SWEs next year. If that goes well, SWE would be fully electronic by 2026. 

The announcements came as the Coast Guard concluded its investigation into what caused the printing errors in test packets for the May exam. Investigators determined that turnover and billet gaps at the Pay and Personnel Center (PPC) had left inexperienced staff dealing with a brand-new process for transferring SWE files this year—one that didn’t have adequate quality assurance built into it. 

Since then, the PPC has fully staffed the unit that handles SWE’s—the annual test that, along with other factors, is a necessary step for advancement from E-5 to E-8 for most Coast Guard ratings. Staff have also undergone comprehensive training to ensure they understand their roles and new processes.  

In addition, PPC has implemented more quality assurance procedures. The office is now looking at larger statistical samples to increase the likelihood of detecting problems. They have also added additional quality checks. “We’ve tripled down on what we were doing in the past,” said Capt. John Henry, PPC commanding officer. 

Henry said his office has already received the make-up SWEs (scheduled for August 26-29, 2024) back from the printer.  “We’re doing the quality assurance checks right now with the updated tests,” he said. “Our plan is to have them checked and sent out in plenty of time to be ready for the make-up exams.” 



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