Chapter 13 – Guidance For Comments

13-1. Purpose.

This chapter provides expanded guidance for the comments and to supplement the block instructions in chapter 1. Included are suggestions on preparation, style, and special interest items that must be considered by law or directives.

13-2. Technical Aspects.

a. Typography and style.

(1) Use only 10 or 12 pitch (10 or 12 point).

(2) Be concise.

Comment space is very limited. Bullet style is preferred.

(3) Use everyday language.

Do not use flowery adjectives or other extremes of style. Let the member’s performance speak louder than words.

(4) Give examples of performance and results. Be specific.

Concentrate on verifiable accomplishments.

(5) Quantify

wherever possible in order to give credibility to the statements, but do not stress quantity at the expense of quality.

(6) Do not make everyone sound alike.

Selection boards may discount narratives assembled from a list of stock comments used for everyone in the command.

(7) Do not combine outstanding comments with average or below average marks (or the reverse).

This makes the entire report unconvincing.

(8) Ranking.

Ranking in the comments field is authorized.

(9) Clarity.

The report must be understandable by all readers, both now and in the future. Limit the use of acronyms or command specific terms.
b. Continuations, attachments, and enclosures.

(1) Continuation sheets will not be accepted.

Limit comments to the space on the form.

(2) Do not attach or enclose documents, except an endorsed statement submitted by the member, a flag officer endorsement where required, a civilian or foreign letter report, a letter-extension of a Concurrent/Regular report, or a classified letter-supplement, as described below.

(3) Do not enclose citations or commendations.

c. Classification.

(1) Under no circumstances may the report form be classified.

(2) If classified comments are unavoidable, prepare a 1- page letter supplement classified no higher than SECRET. Do not include special access material.
(3) The combined length of classified and unclassified comments should not exceed the space normally available on the form.

(4) Do not submit classified comments merely to explain
the command’s mission.

Comments must deal directly with performance.

(5) Mail the report and classified supplement together as classified matter, per SECNAV M-510.36 of 1 June 2006.

(6) The mailing address for classified comments is provided in chapter 1, paragraph 1-7d. Note at the end of the comments block that a classified supplement has been submitted.

13-3. General Comments.

Specific comment is desired on the following items when they are a significant part of the member’s duties or the member displays particularly strong or weak performance.
a. Give the authorized reason for a Concurrent, Special, or
Operational Commander report. This must be the first sentence of the comments in anything other than a Regular report.

b. On a detachment of individual report, identify the next assignment, if known, to assist users in following the continuity of the record.

c. Operational and combat performance.

d. Leadership and development of subordinates.

e. Material condition of platforms and equipment.

f. Acts of courage.

g. Handling of all sexual assault/harassment cases and fostering a workplace environment free of reprisal.

h. Inspection/certification performance and follow-up.

i. Quality improvements achieved.

j. Waste eliminated and cost savings achieved.

k. Outstanding PFA score or noteworthy improvement.

l. Notes on future potential aid in administrative board proceedings and are appropriate.

m. Periods of AT, ADT, and/or ADSW apply to reports on drilling Navy Reservists only. Refer to chapters 9 and 10.

n. If the report is submitted under an assumption of authority by the ISIC or by a general courts-martial convening authority, note the circumstances at the beginning of EVAL block 43 or FITREP / CHIEFEVAL block 41.

o. Note any change in designator since the previous Regular report.

p. If a code letter in block 20 is “B”, note reason for PRT non-participation.

13-4. Required Comments.

a. Substantiation of 1.0 grades or three 2.0 grades.

(1) Specifically substantiate all 1.0 grades and when three or more traits are evaluated 2.0. Correlate the comments by block number to the performance trait being discussed.

(2) General comments on the remainder of the evaluative blocks are required. You may substantiate more than one trait with a single bullet or paragraph, particularly when discussing a deficiency that has impacted several performance traits.

b. Substantiation of grades below 3.0 in Command or Organizational Climate / Equal Opportunity or Character.

(1) Grades below 3.0 in these two categories are contrary to the Navy ethos and therefore require addressing in the comments block.

(2) Grades below 3.0 may be used to substantiate adverse retention recommendations.

c. Adverse Recommendations and Comments.

(1) Substantiate any promotion recommendation of Significant Problems and any recommendation against retention.

(2) If an officer or chief petty officer has a recommendation of Significant Problems, it will be assumed to be a recommendation against retention unless the reporting senior specifically recommends retention in the comments.

(3) Confirmed Illegal Drug Use or Possession.

Document confirmed illegal drug use or possession in a Special report or in the next Regular report.

(4) Alcohol Abuse.

Comment on alcohol abuse that is proving detrimental to a member’s performance or personal behavior. Comments are required on conviction for, or finding of, driving under the influence of alcohol.

(5) Judicial or Non-Judicial Punishment (NJP).

Document concluded judicial or NJP cases where there has been a finding of guilty or awarding of punishment.

(a) Give the date of the conviction or award of punishment, and the concluding date of the proceeding.

(b) The reporting senior’s signature date must not be earlier than the concluding date.

(6) Any comment concerning adverse actions against the member or suggesting persistent weaknesses, continuing incapacity, or unsuitability for specific assignment or promotion must also be treated as adverse matter, regardless of grades assigned.

(7) A reporting senior has a duty to report significant and persistent weaknesses, but do not use comments merely to get the member’s attention.

(8) Declining Performance.

A decline in performance is defined as receiving lower grades on two or more performance traits in the same pay grade by the same reporting senior on subsequent reports.

(a) A change in promotion recommendation caused by forced distribution is not considered a decline in performance or an adverse report.

(b) If the decline was due to forced distribution limits, explain as such.

(c) If the decline in performance is based on performance, comments should justify the decline.

(d) Removal from leadership positions should be noted and explained.

d. Command Triad Specific Guidance.

(1) Command Climate Assessments.

Document whether commanders, commanding officers, and officers-in-charge conducted required command climate assessments per reference (f). Reporting seniors must clearly document the failure to conduct the required command climate assessment.

(a) The failure to conduct required command assessments is considered a leadership deficiency for grading purposes.

(b) If a command climate assessment is not required during the period of performance then use the following statement, “No command climate assessment required for this period of performance”.

(c) Survey results may help raters perceive measurable progress or regression over time.

(d) No survey, however, can capture the whole picture. Survey results should not be relied upon exclusively to assess a command’s climate.

(2) Personnel Security Program.

When evaluating unit commanders and commanding officers, reporting seniors shall take into account the performance of a command’s personnel security program (e.g. procedural and substantive compliance with SECNAVM-5510.30 and its parent instructions).

(3) Training and Utilization of Navy Reservists.

Strongly desired in reports on Cos/OICs or other officers whose duties include utilizing Navy Reserve units and/or their individual Reservists.

(a) Active unit officers with assigned Reserve units or Reserve billets on their Activity Manning Document (AMD) should assess how the assigned Reservists are integrated within their command.

(b) Active officers without Reserve billets on their AMD may assess how Reserve support is harnessed by other means.

(c) Reserve Unit officers with assigned gaining commands should assess how all billeted members (both local and cross-assigned, officer and enlisted) are included in their annual active duty operational support plans.
(d) In all cases, specifically address overall Reserve readiness (unit and individual) and capability to support assigned missions.

(4) Management of Civilian Employees.

Desired in reports on COs and department heads with responsibility for civilian employees.

e. Officer and Senior Enlisted Specific Guidance.

(1) Command Climate.

All officers and senior enlisted personnel shall be assessed on their efforts and quality of results in fostering a command and workplace environment conducive to the growth and development of personnel.

(a) Efforts include establishing, training to, and enforcing standards of professionalism.

(b) Results are evident in a command where all hands are treated with dignity and respect.

(c) Transparency, sensitivity, and responsiveness to concerns are the hallmarks of superior performance in this area.

(2) Innovation.

All officers and senior enlisted personnel shall be assessed on their contributions to building an innovative culture with the DON. The following criteria should be considered as part of the assessment.

(a) Creating an environment that fosters innovation.

(b) Identifying and removing unnecessary bureaucratic barriers.

(c) Developing innovative ideas to improve their organization.

(d) Championing innovative ideas of the workforce.

(3) Talent Management.

Consider the member’s contribution to personnel advancement, increased educational opportunities, overall career development, and results of retention excellence award programs. Where appropriate, comment specifically on successful retention of quality Sailors in support of the Chief of Naval Operations’ goals and initiatives.

(4) Energy Conservation.

Comment on leadership efforts that treat the judicious use of energy (fuel, shore power, etc.) as a strategic resource for achieving greater combat capability.

f. Billet Specific Guidance.

(1) Joint/Combined Performance.

Comment on joint effort with other Services, agencies, or foreign nations, if
applicable, regardless of whether assigned to a joint billet.

(2) Performance of Security Responsibilities.

Where responsibilities involve the use, custody, or management of classified information, comment on performance in discharging those responsibilities. Also, comment on an officially determined ineligibility for a security clearance if this impacts the member’s performance or assignability.

(3) Implementation of Navy/Department of Defense Management Improvement Programs.

Comment on initiative and effectiveness in implementing these management improvement programs. Programs to be considered include, but are not limited to, the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act
(DAWIA), the Chief of Naval Operations Management Control Program, and the Department of Defense/Department of the Navy Outsourcing and Privatization programs.

(4) Energy Conservation.

Comment on efforts by a member and the quality of results in fostering a command culture/workplace environment conducive to the judicious use of
energy (fuel, shore power, etc.) as a strategic resource for achieving greater combat readiness.

(5) Equal Opportunity.

Comment on initiative in supporting the Command Managed Equal Opportunity (CMEO) Program and maintaining an environment free of racial or sexual bias or harassment. Consider performance with respect to civilian employees as well as military members.

(6) Subspecialty Performance.

Where an officer has a subspecialty code and is performing in that subspecialty, comment, as appropriate, and consider in the performance trait grades. For other officers, provide comments, if appropriate, which might assist subspecialty selection boards.

(7) Audit Resolution and Follow-up.

Desired in reports on officers responsible for audited functions. Comment on performance in resolving and following-up on audit recommendations.

g. Comments Specific to E1-E6 Evaluations.

(1) Qualifications attained during the reporting period.

(2) Courses completed during the reporting period.

(3) Civic activities beneficial to the Navy.

(4) Awards and Commendations. Note personal awards received during the period and significant letters of commendation or appreciation. Citations and letters may be quoted, but not attached to the report.

13-5. Prohibited Comments. Do not comment on the following, except as noted.

a. Previous Failure of Selection (FOS).

b. Submission or Withdrawal of Resignation Under Honorable circumstances.

c. Judicial or NJP proceedings not concluded.

d. Non-punitive Letters of Caution (NPLOC) are leadership tools and should not be mentioned in an official record.

e. Investigations and Investigative Reports.

(1) Do not refer to investigations until they are concluded and do not quote directly from investigative reports.
(2) Do not use information from investigative reports if such use is prohibited by the regulations for that type
(3) This does not preclude the use of facts determined independently to the satisfaction of the reporting senior.
f. Marital Status, Spouse, or Family Members.

(1) Do not comment on the member’s marital status or the activities of the member’s spouse or family members.

(2) Exceptions may be made only where unavoidably necessary to clarify other information in the report.

g. Medical Reports and Summaries.

(1) Do not quote from medical reports or summaries, and do not mention medical conditions (including pregnancy) unless necessary to explain other matters in the report, i.e., use of PFA code.

(2) Members shall not be given a less favorable report solely because of medical issues.

h. Service on Courts-Martial, a Board of Inquiry, or an Administrative Discharge Board.

(1) Do not comment on performance as a courts-martial member, a summary courts-martial officer, or a member of a board of inquiry or an administrative discharge board except to note having served without identifying the particular case.

(2) Comments on performance as a military judge or an appellate judge may not be based upon judicial opinions, rulings, or the results thereof.

(3) A defense counsel may not be given less favorable comments because of the zeal with which that officer represented any accused. See “Performance of Military Justice Duties” in the introduction.

i. Recommended Awards or Decorations. Do not refer to
award recommendations. Awards and decorations should be
mentioned only when received.

j. Civilian Employment. Do not make comments regarding a
member’s potential for civilian employment or the civilian
employment of Reservists.

13-6. Comments on Misconduct, Judicial or NJP Proceedings, and Corrective Measures.

a. General Commenting on Misconduct.

Comments may be included on misconduct whenever the facts are clearly established to the reporting senior’s satisfaction.

(1) Do not use FITREP, CHIEFEVAL, or EVAL comments a
substitute for appropriate corrective action or UCMJ
proceedings.

(2) Take reasonable care to avoid comments that may
later be invalidated by official findings.

b. Commenting on Judicial or NJP Proceedings.

Do no refer to civil, courts-martial, or NJP proceedings unless there has
been a finding of guilty or award of punishment, and the reporting senior’s signature date is on or after the “concluding date” of the proceedings as defined above.

(1) When commenting on a conviction or NJP, give both the date of conviction or award of punishment and the “concluding date”.

(2) A civil prosecution is concluded when the trial court makes a determination.

(3) A courts-martial is concluded when the convening authority approves the findings and sentence.

(4) NJP proceedings are concluded when they are final on appeal, or when it has been determined that the member has waived the right of appeal (normally 5 days after imposition of punishment).

(5) For additional guidance, refer to the Manual of the Judge Advocate General, chapter I.

(6) Do not delay a report in order to comment on proceedings that are pending or in progress. The report may be supplemented after the proceedings are concluded. In the latter case, the reporting senior need not have been the member’s reporting senior at the time the offense occurred.

c. Commenting on Non-punitive Administrative Corrective Measures.

The comments may refer to non-punitive administrative corrective measures, other than a non-punitive letter of caution, but first take into account the non-punitive intent of these measures and whether the member has subsequently improved.