The Defense Officer Personnel Management Act (DOPMA) (Pub.L. 96–513), passed in 1980, for the first time standardized officer personnel management across the Armed Forces. DOPMA established ceilings on the number of field grade (O-4 through O-6) officers authorized to each service, created uniform regulations governing promotions, and codified rules regarding separation and retirement of officers. Even though the NOAA Corps is not covered under DOPMA, our laws are very similar to DOD and in the majority of the cases are the same. DOPMA also created stable and predictable career paths, institutionalized relatively short careers compared to private industry, and mandated the military adopt an "up or out" personnel management strategy (requiring officers who failed selection for promotion to be removed from the service). The NOAA Corps follows the “up or out” system as well.
NOAA Corps attrition has recently slowed which has resulted in our strength maintaining a level at or above our authorized numbers throughout the fiscal year. The immediate impacts from this slowing are reducing accessions, which can cause another bubble, as created during the hiring freeze in the 1990s. To keep this from occurring again the challenge lies in shifting our approach from a growth model where accessions exceed attrition, to an approach that utilizes active management to assure a balance of attrition and accession.
Management of attrition is where the bulk of this discussion lies. In recent history, this has not been a concern as it pertains to the management of our NOAA Corps workforce. Attrition plus our number of vacancies have exceeded our accessions since 1999. Now that we are maintaining our authorized strength, active and sometimes aggressive management of our attrition becomes necessary. It is on this point that I would like to provide some information as to the tools available to the Director, NOAA Corps, to assure we achieve equilibrium as well as ensuring that we have a strong NOAA Corps workforce positioned to best serve the needs of NOAA.
As listed in the NOAA Corps Directives Chapter 8, there are a number of paths that influence our attrition: Voluntary resignation/retirement, Involuntary non-disability separation/retirement, Disability retirement/discharge, and Separation in the Best Interest of the Service. Of those, separation in the best interest of the Service warrants some discussion.
A separation or retirement in the best interest of the NOAA Corps is warranted when performance of an officer is at a level below that expected of a NOAA Corps officer of his/her grade, and which fails to indicate potential for future growth or promotion. The number of officers involuntarily separated or retired cannot exceed 4% (12 officers) of the NOAA Corps' authorized strength in any given fiscal year.
You may ask, “How does this translate to me?” First, given that attrition numbers will have to be increased to remain balanced or above accessions, the assumption that by merely completing the written requirements for promotion assures promotion is far from accurate. Promotions are based on selecting the most qualified individuals, not just those that have met the basic prerequisites for promotion. Second, not achieving qualifications with your peers meets the criterion for separation in the best interest of the Service. Examples of these qualifications include officer of the deck, senior watch officer, and aircraft commander. Third, active management of one’s career and professional/operational/technical development is a must. This has always been the case. If, for instance, a supervisor has documented a weakness in your performance and laid out a corrective action plan or otherwise tasked you with some work to improve; failing to do so indicates that your performance could be below that of other officers within your grade. Finally, as is evidenced by the 2015 NOAA Corps Officer Corps Management Plan, a study of the workforce composition may inform the Director to order an annual review of a single, several, or all grades within the NOAA Corps. Through that process, the Director may describe the performance criterion that is most important for the strength and positioning of our workforce in the future. Documented weakness in those areas as compared to your peers would be cause for review for separation or retirement in the best interest of the Service.
Our collective goal is to provide NOAA and the Nation the most capable officers. We are a high performing organization and celebrate our “up or out” system. The process of actively managing attrition will further strengthen our Corps by ensuring that our performance across the ranks continues to increase. Thank you for your service and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.
CAPT Lawrence T. Krepp, NOAA
|10 Apr 2015||OPF Submission Deadline for Officer Personnel Board (OPB)|
|21 Apr 2015||Officer Assignment Board|
|28 Apr - 01 May 2015||OPB - Promotion Selection|
|June 2015||Aviation Advisory Board|
|LT Van Helker||15 April 2015|
|LTJG Leslie Flowers||17 April 2015|
|LTJG Christopher Briand||01 May 2015|
|LTJG David Rodziewicz||08 May 2015|
|LT Christine Schultz||31 May 2015|
|LCDR Phillip Eastman||01 June 2015|
|ENS Daniel Hodge||15 June 2015|