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Opinion: Avoidable EPR confusion

Aug. 18, 2014 - 12:29PM   |  
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It didn’t take long for confusion over changes to the enlisted performance report to begin, and the Air Force has its own communication failure to blame.

The confusion stems from an Aug. 8 announcement that all technical sergeants with evals due between Aug. 15 and Nov. 30 would close out their EPRs on Nov. 30.

The idea is to have one closeout for each rank, timed to the cutoff dates in the promotion cycle so airmen competing against each other are assessed for the same time frame, rather than staggered throughout the year.

The change is based on sound rationale and many airmen agree with it.

But in announcing the change, the Air Force left out critical information that airmen must know: Would those whose EPRs were already completed need to have another one closed out by Nov. 30? The announcement mentioned only those technical sergeants with closeouts due between Aug. 15 and Nov. 30.

The wording was ambiguous and left airmen scrambling for clarity.

Until Aug. 18, the Air Force Personnel Center was unable to answer this question, despite the obvious confusion on Facebook and other social media. That is 10 days after the initial announcement and five days after an Air Force Times query seeking to clear up the confusion. That’s not acceptable.

Air Force leaders say airmen are their top priority, and communication is key.

If that’s true, then they should take every opportunity to explain the intricacies of these very important changes to enlisted evaluations.

Many more changes are coming to the enlisted evals over the next 18 months.

As this rollout occurs, leaders owe it to airmen to be transparent in their initial blast of information and rapidly answer follow-up questions when confusion arises.

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