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Coast Guard Personnel Service Center

Officer Personnel Management Division

Officer Boards, Promotions, and Separations Branch CG PSC (opm-1)


Officer Boards Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions About Boards:


1. 
How are the number of officers to be promoted and the promotion zone sizes determined?

2. Why is the stated opportunity of selection (OOS) always higher than the actual OOS announced with the board results?

3. What does it mean to have a "best qualified" board?

4. What does it mean to have a "fully qualified" board?

5. What selection criteria do the boards use?

6. What information do boards see in making their decisions?

7. Are the boards given quotas for diversity reasons?

8. Are the boards given quotas for specialties?

9. Can board presidents vote?

10. What happens if a board member is a close friend or relative of someone under consideration?

11. Do boards factor my medical condition into their decision?

12. Do boards exclusively use electronic records?

13. If I am passed over will the board know it the next time?

14. When does my next promotion board meet?

15. Can I find out exactly why I got passed over?

16. Will a board see my retirement/resignation/temp separation letter? 

17. How does CGHRMS affect officer promotion boards?


Preparing for Boards:


1.
 
What can I do six months out to prepare for a promotion board?

2. What should I be looking for on the board announcement message?

3. When should I write a letter to the board?

4. Why are some of my awards in CGHRMS but not in my HQ Record?


After the Board:
 

1.   Can you appeal promotion board results?

2.   Why does it take so long to get a board message released?

3.   How can someone who is known to be a "top performer" get passed over?


Board Memberships:
 

1.  How can I become a board member?

2.  What types of people make up the board membership?

3.  How is the board membership approved?


Deep Selection:
 

1.  Are Boards told that they have to deep select people?

2.  How many people can be deep selected?

3.  Do I need to do anything to be eligible for deep selection?


CWO Promotions:
 

1.  Are CWO promotions done by specialty?

2.  Why are there some lieutenants and LTJG's on the CWO promotion list?

3.  How does deep selection for CWO's work?


CWO Appointments:
 

1. Last year I was on the list for CWO appointment but this year I was disqualified.  Nothing changed in my record so how could this happen?

2. Can you explain the CWO appointment board process?


Register of Officers:


1. Why doesn't the order of precedence on a promotion message
exactly match the order found on the electronic resister of officers on the opm-1 web page?


Communications to the Board:

1. What policy or law governs communicating to the board?
2. Should I communicate with the board?
3.
What format does the letter need to be? 
4.
Who do I address it to?
5.
Is a command endorsement required?  Officer Accessions, Evaluations, and Promotions, COMDTINST M1000.3, states it is optional. 
6.
May I have multiple endorsements by the chain of command? 
7.
How far in advance of the board should I submit my communications? 
8.
What are the prohibitions for communicating to the board? 
9.
May I include attachments? 
10.
Can I discuss a pending BCMR or PRRB? 
11.
Can I discuss a medical condition? 
12.
May I discuss a family member's condition? 
13.
What is prohibited in command endorsements? 
14.
May I discuss that I was passed over? 
15.
May I discuss why I was passed over?   
16.
If I think I may not be selected by a promotion board that has a continuation board associated, may I send communications that will only be seen by the continuation board? 
17.
How should I submit my communications?
18.
What if my communications contain prohibited comments?  Can I revise it? 
19.
May I submit a communications to the board after the board has started? 
20.
May I communicate to the board through a retirement or resignation letter?


How are the number of officers to be promoted and the promotion zone sizes determined?

In the spring of each year, the Commandant approves an Officer Corps Management Plan (OCMP) prepared by CG-1.  This document establishes the number of officers authorized in each grade, the opportunity of selection for each promotion board, and whether to hold certain boards such as Captain Continuation, LT Continuation, and Reserve Extension.  G-W then uses the approved OCMP to develop a memorandum authorizing the promotion zone sizes and the number of officers to select.  These numbers are approximately equal to the number of vacancies estimated for the next 12 months, less the number of officers on the promotion list for that grade.  The same memo from G-W establishing numbers of officers to be promoted also establishes the zone sizes.  Decisions about zone sizes and opportunities of promotion for each grade are based on a few factors: the needs of the Service; the estimated number of vacancies available in future years to provide comparable opportunity to promote officers in successive year groups; and the extent to which current terms of service in that grade conform to a desirable career promotion path.  After receiving authorization from G-W, CG PSC releases an  ALCGOFF message announcing the zone sizes and the numbers to be promoted for each grade.  (14 U.S.C. 253, 14 U.S.C. 255)

Why is the stated opportunity of selection (OOS) always higher than the actual OOS announced with the board results?

For a given board, the stated OOS is simply the total number of officers to be selected divided by the number of officers in zone.  The actual OOS is the number of officers selected in zone divided by the number of officers in and above zone.  The actual OOS is usually lower because some officers may be selected from above and below the zone.  The difference between stated and actual OOS is best illustrated in an example.

For the 2001 LCDR promotion board the G-W memo announced the following: 

 # to be selected = 203 
# in zone = 231
 

therefore, the stated OOS was 203/231 = 88% 

 

 In making their decisions, the board actually selected:

                        

17 (above zone) 

185 (in zone) 

1 (below zone)

  

Therefore, the actual OOS (for those in zone) was 185/231 = 80% As is usually the case, the actual OOS was lower than the stated OOS.

What does it mean to have a "Best Qualified" board?

Most promotion boards are best qualified (Lieutenant through Rear Admiral (lower half)).  All officers under consideration compete with each other for a limited number of vacancies.  The Coast Guard officer workforce depicts a pyramid structure, which relies on a large junior officer workforce but a much smaller senior officer workforce.  Natural attrition alone is inadequate to reduce the size of the workforce as it matures.  A best qualified board will always result in fewer officers selected than were considered.   By necessity, the best qualified process results in the non-selection for promotion of officers who may be fully qualified to serve in the next-higher grade. 

Selection on a "best qualified" basis embodies four elements.  Selection boards are required to:

(1)   Consider all officers impartially and equally;

(2)   Develop criteria by which officers can be compared and apply the same criteria to all those being considered;

(3)  Evaluate by comparison, with the most capable officers advancing to positions of higher responsibility; and

(4)   Be legally sufficient.

Selection boards convened to recommend officers for promotion to the grades of lieutenant through rear admiral (lower half) consider officers on a "best qualified" basis.  Promotion to lieutenant (junior grade) is made on a "Fully Qualified" basis.   "Best Qualified" selection boards are instructed, via Coast Guard policy, to compare all officers under consideration and base their recommendations on the extent to which the officers compare among themselves in accomplishing past assignments and potential for greater responsibility.  "Best Qualified" boards consider officers' records, comparing past performance, the officers' capacity to undertake successfully tasks of progressively greater difficulty involving broader responsibilities, the officers' capability and inclination to study for further professional growth, and their potential to perform creditably those duties to which they might be assigned in the next higher grade.

What does it mean to have a "fully qualified" board?

LTJG promotion boards are fully qualified.  These boards recommend those officers for promotion whose records indicate they are qualified to perform all duties to which they reasonably might be assigned in the grade for which they are being considered.  The board must recommend whether each officer it considers is or is not fully qualified, without any restrictions or qualifications.  The board may also determine an officer to be performing unsatisfactorily in grade.  In that case, the officer's commissions is revoked and the member is discharged from the officer corps.  All officers under consideration may be selected in a fully qualified board.

What selection criteria do the boards use?

Promotion boards recommend on either a best qualified or fully qualified basis as set forth in law and directed in the precept.  Each board develops its own overall standards and selection criteria.  The degree of significance a board assigns to each of the many factors it considers may vary according to the grade and type of selection the board is making.  A board selecting officers for lieutenant may emphasize different factors than would a captain continuation board.

Whether convened on a "fully qualified" or a "best qualified" basis, selection boards are required to consider four basic criteria:  performance evaluations, professionalism, leadership and education.  In addition, per 14 U.S.C. 254, selection boards must consider the efficiency of the Coast Guard.  Based on the above factors, each board develops its own overall selection criteria.  The degree of significance a board assigns to each of the many factors it considers may vary according to the grade and type of selection the board is making.  Boards are charged to make their decisions based on matters of record only, and are provided each eligible officer's record for consideration.  The Coast Guard does not require its selection boards to consider any criteria other than those mentioned above, and provides direction to ensure fairness and impartiality in the deliberative process.

What information do boards see in making their decisions?

The Coast Guard is very constrained by Law on what information promotion boards are allowed to see.  Officer promotion boards review only officers' service records and any communications from candidates directly to the board.  Records are presented to the boards using electronic imaging.  To ensure that all candidates compete on a level playing field, officer promotion boards only see the officer portion of a record (not the enlisted portion for those officers with prior enlisted service).  The boards are also given eligibility rosters of the candidates in alphabetical order.  Above and in zone officer rosters are combined, so that the status of the candidates is not discernible.  Information regarding ethnicity is not available to promotion boards at any time.  (14 U.S.C. 258)

Are the boards given quotas for diversity reasons?

No.  The precepts tell the board how many officers to select for promotion from the eligible candidate pool without any reference to race or gender.  Based on the Supreme Court's ruling in the 1995 case of Adarand v. United States Department of Transportation, Federal affirmative action programs that use racial and/or ethnic criteria as a basis for decision making are subject to strict judicial scrutiny, which typically results in judicial invalidation of such race-based initiatives.  In the wake of the Adarand decision, the DOD has lost several landmark cases (Baker v. United States and most recently, Christian v. United States) in which selection boards were impermissibly using race and gender as criteria.  In essence, the impact of the Adarand decision and follow on rulings is that boards cannot be directed to consider minority or gender status in selecting those officers "best qualified" for promotion.

Are the boards given quotas for specialties?

No.  The precepts tell the board how many officers to select without stating any quotas for a given specialty.  However, the Law requires promotion boards to consider "the efficiency of the Coast Guard." 

Can board presidents vote?

Yes, board presidents have an equal vote in any decisions made by the board.  All promotion boards (O-2 through O-5) have an O-6 president who acts as the senior member.  The O-6 and O-7 boards have flag officer presidents.

What happens if a board member is a close friend or relative of someone under consideration?

In a small service such as ours, it is not unusual for board members to have personal knowledge of officers under consideration.  For instance, a board member who is CO of a unit may have his OPS boss or a JO under consideration.  In some cases, board members may have friends or distant relatives under consideration.  However, board members are charged to make their decisions on matters of record only.  Board members who feel that they have personal knowledge of a member under consideration may recuse themselves from evaluating that member for promotion.

Do boards factor my medical condition into their decision?

No.  Promotion boards are not given any information about medical condition of the officers under consideration.  They are instructed to assume that all officers whose records they see are medically qualified.

Do boards exclusively use electronic records?

All promotion boards use electronic records.  These records are scanned in so that images of the documents appear on the computer screen.

If I am passed over will the board know it the next time?

No.  Promotion boards are given a combined roster of above and in zone officers under consideration, with officers listed alphabetically or by SSN, so that the status of the candidates is not discernible.

When does my next promotion board meet?

PSCNOTE 1401 (series) is published every spring announcing the convening dates for all active duty promotion boards and panels for the upcoming promotion year.  Promotion years occur from 01 July to 30 June of a given year.

Can I find out exactly why I got passed over?

Deliberations of a promotion board are confidential, and board members take an oath to that effect.  This requirement is not to hide the process, but is instead intended to protect officers from following what could be misleading guidance.  Every year, boards convene with different members, a different precept, and different Service needs.  They develop their own specific criteria for promotion.  If each board gave out advice as to what they thought was the key to promotion, officers might follow suggestions that would not help them succeed in future years.  Officers seeking career and promotion advice should ask their assignment officers for feedback and recommendations on how to strengthen their records.  (14 U.S.C. 261).  Most importantly, officers should read and familiarize themselves with Chapter 6.A.3.b of Officer Accessions, Evaluations, Promotions, COMDTINST M1000.3, which describes the  criteria that must be considered by promotion boards:  performance, professionalism, leadership, and education.

Will a board see my retirement/resignation/temp separation letter?

No.  Promotion boards will not see the specific contents of your retirement or resignation request.  However  they will be presented with a list of those that have approved resignation requests for whom orders have been cut.  Each promotion board decides on their own how to handle these separations when making selection decisions.  If you desire to resign under the temporary separation program, and want to compete for promotion before you leave the Service, you would be wise to submit you letter after the promotion board meets.  Promotion boards cannot distinguish between a temporary separation and a regular resignation.

How does CGHRMS affect officer promotion boards?

The major difference that you will see is in the application procedure for the CWO Appointment Board, CWO to LT Board, RPA Designation Board, and the Reserve Extension Board.  Officers will apply to these boards using the e-resume with command endorsement on the CGHRMS system.  For all other promotion boards, the CGHRMS system will generate eligibility lists so make sure you verify your name on promotion board announcement messages as some data may not transfer correctly.  The most important thing for all members to do is update their personal contact information in the CGHRMS system.

What can I do six months out to prepare for a promotion board?

Review your official record for completeness.  While every effort is made to ensure that records are checked for completeness prior to each promotion board, officers are ultimately responsible for their own records.  Copies may be obtained by mail through U. S. Coast Guard Personnel Service Center Records Branch (mr)

What should I be looking for on the board announcement  message?

Thirty days prior to convening a board, an announcement message is released listing all the candidates in and above zone.  Make sure that your name appears on this message if you are an in or above zone candidate for a particular board.  If you do not see your name on the announcement message and you think it should be there, contact the boards section of CG PSC (opm) immediately.

When should I write a letter to the board?

Officers are entitled under 14 U.S.C. 253 to send a communication to their promotion board.  Letters must be sent through their chains of command, to arrive not later than the date the board convenes.  The communication may invite attention to that officer's armed forces record alone.  It may not criticize any officer or reflect upon the character, conduct, or motive of any officer.  Officers desiring to submit communications to the board are advised to do so well in advance, since CG PSC reviews all letters for compliance with the requirements of Officer Accessions, Evaluations, Promotions, COMDTINST M1000.3.  Prohibited comments may be removed by the member and the letter resubmitted, or they will be redacted by CG PSC. Article 5.A.4.e of Officer Accessions, Evaluations, Promotions, COMDTINST M1000.3 provides specific guidance on communicating with a selection board. 

Why are some of my awards in CGHRMS but not in my HQ record?

The imaging program at the headquarters records room is a completely separate system from CGHRMS.  The records room scans an image of a paper copy of your records into the computer.  Hard copies of awards must be forwarded to CG PSD-mr to ensure that they are scanned into the imaging system that promotion boards use.

Can you appeal promotion board results?

No.  Promotion boards are governed by law, not just policy.  Once a board report is approved the results are firm.  Promotion boards are not reconvened to address any type of appeal.  If an officer wishes to correct an error in their official record that may have contributed to a non-selection, the proper vehicle is submitting a form DD-149 to have the issue addressed by the Personnel Records Review Board (PRRB) for errors within one year or a Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR) for errors older than one year. 

Why does it take so long to get a board message released?

Most promotion board reports are routed through the Commandant to the Secretary of Homeland Security for final approval.  Results are not disseminated until this occurs.    Once CG PSC receives the approved board report back from the Department of Homeland Security, non-selection calls are made.  This notification is done as a courtesy so that non-selected officers are not taken by surprise when the board results message is released.  Once a reasonable attempt to notify all non-selected officers has been made, the results message is released to the field.  The entire process, from board adjournment to release of the message, usually takes from four to six weeks.  (14 U.S.C 261)

How can someone who is known to be a "top performer" get passed over?

As a result of the "best qualified" selection process, some high performing officers are passed over.  Boards have the benefit of seeing each member's entire record (including things along the way that co-workers may not be aware of) and being able to then compare all of those records in one sitting.  Other officers may have had much stronger complete records in comparison to someone you personally know.  It is important to remember that the "best qualified" selection process often results in very tough competition among qualified officers.

How can I become a board member?

If you would like to be a member on an future board, send an email to CG PSC-opm-1.   For an ADPL Board, you must be a regular officer or a Reserve Officer on an Extended Active Duty contract.

What types of people make up the board membership?

The Coast Guard takes great pains to ensure that the members of each selection board are high performing officers who provide as wide a representation of the officer corps under consideration as possible.  Board members are carefully chosen to reflect a broad diversity of professional communities, ethnic backgrounds, gender, commissioning sources and geographical regions.  Messages to the officer corps announcing the results of selection boards list the board membership to provide confidence in the promotion system to those officers under consideration.  (14 U.S.C. 252)  Selection board members are not authorized to advocate for any particular group or individual;  rather, they are chosen to ensure fair consideration and to instill confidence in the process.

How is the board membership approved?

The board membership slates are carefully developed in opm-1 and routed to the Chief of Officer Personnel Management (CG PSC (opm)) for approval.

Are boards told that they have to deep select people?

No.  The decision to select officers from below the zone is made by boards on their own.  They are told the total number to select (above, below, and in zone combined) and are reminded of the maximum number that can be selected below the zone by law.   

How many people can be deep selected?

By law (14 U.S.C 259) the number selected below zone may not exceed - 

(1)  Five percent of the total number of officers that the board is authorized to recommend for promotion to the grade of lieutenant or lieutenant commander;

(2)  Seven and a half percent of the total number of officers that the board is authorized to recommend for promotion to the grade of commander; and

(3)  Ten percent of the total number of officers that the board is authorized to recommend for promotion to the grade of captain.

Do I need to do anything to be eligible for deep selection?

No.  You do not need to "apply" to be considered as a below the zone candidate by the board.  However, to make yourself more competitive it is best to ensure that your most recent OER has been validated prior to the board meeting so that your record is up to date.

Are CWO promotions done by specialty?

No.  All eligible candidates from every CWO specialty are combined into one pool from which the board may select.  CWO promotion boards are not given quotas for the different specialties.  All CWO specialties compete on an even playing field for promotion.  Details of the CWO promotion process can be found in Article 1.D of Officer Accessions, Evaluations, Promotions, COMDTINST M1000.3.

Why are there some lieutenants and LTJG's on the CWO promotion list?

CWO's who are selected for the CWO to LT program or other officer commissioning programs are appointed temporary officers.  They retain their permanent rank of CWO until they integrate as regular officers, if they so choose.  During this period, they will continue to be considered for promotion to W-3 and W-4 in their permanent grade of CWO even though they are temporary officers.  These officers are included on CWO promotion eligibility lists as long as they remain permanent warrants which is why you see them on promotion lists to W-3 and W-4.  (14 U.S.C 214)  If a temporary officer twice fails of selection in his/her permanent grade of CWO, that officer will be retired or discharged from the Service.

How does deep selection for CWO's work?

The number of warrants that can be deep selected by a board is limited to not more than 10% of the total number recommended for promotion.  All of the same general information regarding deep selection of other officers applies to CWO deep selection.  (10 U.S.C. 575)

Last year I was on the list for CWO appointment but this year I was disqualified.  Nothing changed in my record so how could this happen?

Every board has a different membership and creates their own criteria for selection.  One year a CWO appointment board may consider someone qualified for selection and the next year the same board (made up of different people) may not.

Can you explain the CWO appointment board process?

First, the CWO appointment board determines who is fully qualified, then they prepare the eligibility list of those individuals fully qualified for appointment and rank order each candidate within their specialty on a best qualified basis.  The board establishes the criteria used for determining who is best qualified.

 If you have questions on the CWO appointment process leading up to the board itself, the links listed below are fantastic sources of information.  The entire CWO appointment process is governed by Article 1.D of Officer Accessions, Evaluations, Promotions, COMDTINST M1000.3 and is set forth in PSCNOTE 1401 (series).

Why doesn't the order of precedence on a promotion message exactly match the order found on the electronic resister of officers on the opm-1 web page?

The Register of Officers is a fluid document that changes as officers retire, resign, gain relief through BCMRs, etc.  The Register of Officers that you see on the web is a snapshot as of 1 January of each year.  The opm-1 promotion section maintains a "master" Register of Officers that is used for ordering all promotion results. 

What policy or law governs communicating with the selection board?

  14 U.S.C 253 is the law that provides the foundation for communicating with an ADPL board.  It is further explained in 3.A.4.f of Officer Accessions, Evaluations, Promotions, COMDTINST M1000.3 and COMDTINST 1401.5AA.

Should I communicate with the board? 

This is difficult to answer.   For ADPL boards, communications to the board are generally the exception rather than the rule.  It can be interpreted in a positive manner or it may bring undue attention to a portion of your record. 

What format does the letter need to be? 

It should be in a Coast Guard standard memo format, but may also be submitted without a Coast Guard letterhead graphic if unavailable.

Who do I address it to?

It is addressed to the President of the particular board in the specific promotion year, through your Commanding Officer (or reporting officer for Area, District or HQ offices) and CG PSC (opm-1).

Example: 

To: President, PY06 Commander Selection Board. 

Thru: (1) Commanding Officer or appropriate officer
         (2) CG PSC (opm-1)

Is a command endorsement required? 

The Officer Accessions, Evaluations and Promotions COMDTINST M1000.3 states it is optional.  The Officer Accessions, Evaluations and Promotions COMDTINST M1000.3 also states that any communications to the board must go through your CO.  To note that this requirement has been met, it must have at least a signature endorsement.  An endorsement with text comments is optional.

May I have multiple endorsements by the chain of command? 

No.  Only one endorsement may be made to your communications to the board by your commanding officer or appropriate officer in the chain of command.

How far in advance of the board should I submit my communications? 

It should be in at least one week in advance to allow for screening and processing.  It will be accepted if CG PSC has receipt of the communications at the start of the board. 

What are the prohibitions for communicating to the board? 

You may not directly or indirectly criticize any officer's character, motive or conduct through your communications.  Additionally, you are to confine your statements to matters of your official record.  Communications to the board are not a means to get information that is prohibited in an OER before a board.

May I include attachments? 

Frequently, officers think they need to use communications to the board to transmit last minute approved documents for their record such as a CG-3307, CG-4082 or an authorized military award citation.  This is not necessary as these documents may be sent separately to CG PSC without communications to the board for inclusion into your official record.

Can I discuss a pending BCMR or PRRB? 

Yes.  You may mention that you have a BCMR or PRRB pending.  Under most circumstances, you cannot describe the specific grievances - this will usually result in criticizing the conduct, motive, or character of another officer.

Can I discuss a medical condition? 

Generally not. The Coast Guard has gone to great effort to ensure that the medical condition of the member or their family is not documented in the officer's official service record.

May I discuss a family member's condition? 

You may not mention specific family members or their conditions.

What is prohibited in command endorsements? 

Commands may not directly or indirectly make a recommendation for promotion.  They may also not comment on past boards or suggest methods that the board should use.

May I discuss that I was passed over? 

You may discuss that you have been passed.  However, boards are not provided this information and your communications may be the only obvious indication that you were previously passed over.

May I discuss why I was passed over?   

You may discuss your opinion as to why you think you were passed over.  There is no way to formally know why you were not selected.  Additionally, it is recommended that you not give a board reasons to consider not selecting you again by drawing attention to any performance dimensions that otherwise might not be noticed.

If I think I may not be selected by a promotion board that has a continuation board associated, may I send communications that will only be seen by the continuation board? 

Yes.  You may send your communications to the president of the particular continuation board.  If you are selected by the promotion board, you will not appear before the continuation board and your letter will not be seen.

How should I submit my communications?

Communications should be submitted via email to PSC-OPM4.  OPM must receive a signed copy of the communications and the endorsement.

What if my communications contain prohibited comments?  Can I revise it?

CG PSC (opm) reviews all communications to the board for legal sufficiency.  If there is a prohibited comment, we will attempt to contact the officer and explain the problem, giving an opportunity to revise it.  This is why it is important to submit the communications early.   If there is no time to allow for resubmission before the board, the prohibited comments will be marked out.

May I submit communications to the board after the board has started? 

Communications to the board must arrive prior to the start of the board. 

May I communicate to the board through a retirement or resignation letter? 

No.  A separate communications to the board should be prepared if a specific message is intended for the board.


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Last Modified 9/19/2013