The purpose of the Army Evaluation Reporting System is to provide an accurate assessment of duty performance for the benefit of the Army and the Soldier. Good evaluations are crucial to advancement. Being pro-active is the only way to protect your reputation, your evaluation and your career.

Generally, negative evaluations do not come out of nowhere. Everyone has a sense of how well they are performing or how well they are getting along with their rater. Communication between you and your rater is the single most important step in preventing a negative evaluation report. You are supposed to have an initial counseling to discuss goals and objectives. If you believe that you are not meeting standards, ask for a follow-up counseling. If your rater agrees that you are falling short, then ask what steps you can take to improve. This lets your rater know that you care about the work you

do, and lets you fix the problem before it affects your evaluation report.

If, despite your best efforts, you still receive a negative evaluation, you do have options. Before signing the report, check the administrative data for accuracy. Common mistakes are found in the duty title/MOS, rating period and counseling dates. Signing an evaluation report only affirms that the administrative data is correct, but once you have signed it is much harder to challenge those mistakes.

Warrant and Commissioned Officers receive an opportunity to respond to negative evaluation reports before they are permanently filed. A referred OER is the officer’s chance to explain the situation

and challenge ratings or comments. After submitting comments, the rater can adjust the evaluation, but cannot rebut the rated officer’s statements. The officer’s comments will be filed alongside the OER when it is filed with Human Resources Command.

After the evaluation is submitted to HRC, you can appeal to have the report redacted or removed. All appeals are made directly to HRC and raters are not informed that an appeal has been filed. In most instances, you must file your appeal within three years of the report’s THRU date. If the evaluation is removed, the period will be treated as unrated time. If unsuccessful, a copy of the notification memo will be attached to the evaluation.

It is your burden to prove that the report is inaccurate or unfair. AR 623-3 sets restrictions on what can and cannot be included in an evaluation and is a common basis for an appeal. Comments referring to ongoing investigations are precluded

as unproven information. If the investigation is completed and punishment imposed, the evaluation can mention the underlying facts.

Finally, comments are mandatory to address every time a “No” or “Needs Improvement” box is checked. Statements from people who worked with you and can explain the situation surrounding the report are the most useful for proving that the report is unfair. Results from an investigation or Commander’s Inquiry can also be very persuasive.

As a professional, you are expected to take an active role in managing your career. Ensure that you know what your superiors expect from you and work with them if you do not think you are meeting standards.

If you feel that an evaluation report is unfair, take the initiative to ask for a Commander’s Inquiry and start gathering your evidence. The Legal Assistance Office, located on 72nd Street and Santa Fe Avenue, can answer your questions and help you with your evaluation report at every step. To set up an appointment, call (254) 287-7901.