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Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter

Representing the 1st District of New Hampshire

Shea-Porter, Warren, Daines, Kelly Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Streamline National Guard Promotion Process

May 8, 2018
Press Release
Legislation Would Remove Bureaucratic Obstacles to Ensure Guard Officers Receive Pay and Benefits They Have Earned

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.), Congressman Trent Kelly (R-Miss.), and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) today introduced the bipartisan National Guard Promotion Accountability Act to address delays in federal recognition of promotions for National Guard members. The bill would compensate Guard officers who serve at a higher rank while waiting for federal recognition by backdating their date of rank to the date at which they were promoted by the state.

 "Congress must ensure that National Guard members receive the pay and benefits they have earned through their service to our country," Congresswoman Shea-Porter said. "Guard members are losing out because bureaucratic delays at the Pentagon mean that it takes many months to officially recognize state National Guard promotions. That's unfair, and it needs to be fixed. Granite Staters who serve our country, and all those whose promotions have been delayed, deserve so much better. Our legislation would ensure that Guard members receive back pay, and it would make improvements to the promotion system so that Guard Members won't have such a long wait for the Pentagon to recognize their promotions."

"Massachusetts National Guard members selflessly volunteer to serve our Commonwealth and our country, and we owe them the very best," Senator Warren said. "It's not right to make our junior officers wait months and months to receive the pay and benefits they have earned because of bureaucratic delays. I've heard from Massachusetts Guard members who are frustrated by these delays -- our bipartisan bill takes simple steps to fix the problem and do right by our dedicated men and women in uniform."

"Members of Montana's National Guard put their life on the line for our freedom and safety," said Senator Daines. "It's shameful that they have to wait around for government to do its job to be compensated for the work they have done and sacrifices they have made. This bipartisan bill will right this wrong and ensure Montana's National Guard members are paid promptly and fairly."

"The significant delays in the federal recognition process are unacceptable," Congressman Kelly said.  "Many of our National Guard officers are expected to perform in positions of higher rank for very long periods, often well after their promotion at the state level.  However, these officers do not receive commensurate pay or benefits until they are federally recognized.  We must ensure the Department of Defense, specifically the Army and Air Force, works to decrease unacceptable delays and inefficiencies in the current federal recognition process."

"The National Guard Association of the United States strongly supports the National Guard Promotion Accountability Act," said retired Brig. Gen. Roy Robinson, president of the National Guard Association of the United States. "Countless Guardsmen have been waiting far too long for their promotions due to bureaucratic delays and antiquated processes. These undue delays have negatively impacted the retention, morale and military careers of thousands of our members. This bill not only does right by servicemembers by providing back pay and time in grade, but will require the Department of Defense to thoroughly review the promotion process as a whole. We thank Senators Warren and Daines and Representatives Shea-Porter and Kelly for their tireless efforts to help National Guardsmen across the 54 states and territories and look forward to working with them to ensure the passage of this vitally important bill."

When soldiers and airmen in the National Guard receive a promotion or appointment to a higher rank, it must be recognized by both by the state and the federal government. While thorough review is important, undue delays in the federal recognition process can have particularly negative consequences for Guard officers. An informal survey conducted by the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) showed that nearly half of respondents reported delays in federal recognition beyond the target 180- to 195-day period, with some waiting over a year for promotion. Guard officers acting in a more senior role while waiting for their promotion to be federally recognized do not receive commensurate pay and benefits. Delays impact time in grade, or can result in officers being evaluated in lesser positions than they are qualified to perform. And Guard officers may be passed up for additional responsibility, such as command, when working hand-in-hand with their active duty counterparts on a federal mission.

The National Guard Promotion Accountability Act would take steps to fix this problem by:

  • Backdating the date of rank: upon receiving federal recognition, an officer's promotion would be considered effective on the date at which it was recognized by the state. This allows Guard officers to claim that time in grade at the higher rank, improving future promotion opportunities and making them eligible for back-pay.
  • Imposing notification requirements for delayed federal promotion recognition: the Secretaries of the Amy and Air Force would be required to report on the status of promotion scrolls that exceed their target publication date and the reason for any delays, providing more transparency around the process.
  • Requiring a report on improvements to the process: the Secretaries of the Army and the Air Force must review their existing promotion review process and report to Congress with recommendations for improvements, including considering automation, additional delegated authorities, or streamlining of existing steps.