Taking care of your people's records

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Peter J. Fagan
  • 55th Wing Director of wing Requirements, Plans and Special Programs
Over the years I've seen more than a few folks who didn't make the next grade. This saddens me because I know a few of them to be very dedicated people. Some were the victims of their own success, some were a victim of their own inaction, while others just weren't taken care of by their raters. One thing we hear over and over again is "We don't meet the board ... our records do."

While the Air Force tells us it uses "the whole person concept," we don't personally stand in front of the board, so our "whole person" is summed up in our records.

During my 18 years of service, I've had only one supervisor ask me to bring him my single user retrieval format, or SURF and top three performance reports. He reviewed them in great detail and told me to fix a multitude of errors. I did so without realizing the impact this would have on my career until I started doing this for my subordinates. Some things that I have seen over the years include mismatched Air Force Specialty Codes and duty titles, incorrect officer performance report types, organizational levels, short tour return dates and missing medals. Any one of these can have a major impact on someone's next assignment or promotion results.

Obvious errors and confusing information lead board members to ask questions and put packages aside for a second look later. I shouldn't have to tell you that anything that distracts from an otherwise good package is a negative factor.

Here are a few things you can do to help yourself:

1. Ask your rater to go over your SURF or OPRs

2. Request permissive temporary duty and review your records a year out from your promotion board.

3. Confirm with the Air Force Personnel Center that your top performance reports are in your records. (Did you know that seeing your OPR in the Automated Records Management System doesn't mean it's in your official records?) I was told this by AFPC personally.

4. And obviously, we all get busy but actually take the time to make the corrections.

When I look back on what that supervisor did for me I have to ask, "Why didn't they all do this?" I pass this on so others may learn. If you haven't had this discussion with your rater about your records, ask him or her to do so and if you haven't done so with your rates ... get off your duff.