A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report has looked into delays for officer appointments and federal recognition for National Guard officers.
The report, “Military Personnel: Factors Affecting Approval Time for Officer Appointments,” does not offer any solutions to delays that have slowed the fedrec process, but does cite some of the supposed reasons for long waits.
The fedrec process has been under scrutiny for well over a year, following a NGAUS survey that showed nearly half of respondents waited more than 196 days. The Army has made some headway recently in shortening the waits, but the process still falls short of a goal directed by Congress last year.
GAO officials looked at the appointment and fedrec processes under requirements laid out in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act. The report, available online at gao.gov, describes the process for approving original appointments and federal recognition of National Guard promotions, the number of each that were approved from fiscal years 2017 and 2018 and factors that affect the time it takes to approve officer appointments.
States promote Guard officers, but those promotions must be federally recognized for officers to wear their insignia or to receive the pay of their new grade when under federal orders.
The promotions are submitted through the use of paper scrolls, or lists of names nominated for appointment. A scroll may include anywhere from one to a few thousand names and must be approved by the defense secretary or the president and confirmed by the Senate, depending on component and pay grade.
In 2017 and 2018, the defense secretary approved, or the Senate confirmed, 2,832 original appointment and federal recognition scrolls that included 111,837 names. About 12,475 of those were federal recognition of Guard promotions.
Defense Department leaders told GAO officials that delays in the process are caused by three main factors:
- Requirements for presidential approval and Senate confirmation, which can add approximately 34 business days, or about 7 weeks, to the process following the initial review from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
- Redundant appointment for officer transfers between active and reserve components.
- Inaccurate information in appointment packages, including missing components, incorrect pay grades or misspelled names, which require additional time to correct.
The GAO noted that RAND’s National Defense Research Institute is currently conducting a study, to be completed by the end of the year, to identify improvements to the officer appointment and fedrec processes.