Revisions to Army Regulation 15-6 now give field grade officers the opportunity to respond to adverse information before it is centrally filed.
Congress has mandated that adverse information found against a field grade officer being considered for promotion must be presented to the officer selection board. In order to ensure commanders execute this Congressional mandate, the Army established the Adverse Information Pilot Program in 2015 and updated Army Regulation 15-6 in April.
AIPP is an electronic portal created to give selection boards easier access to adverse information filed against field grade officers. All adverse information from an inquiry or investigation must be uploaded to AIPP. Under the revisions to AR 15-6, adverse information against a field grade officer is filed for a period of at least 10 years in AIPP. To address this lengthier and more comprehensive filing requirement, AR 15-6 also provides more opportunity for field grade officers to respond to adverse information before it is filed in AIPP.
Before the AR 15-6 revisions and the establishment of the AIPP, officers could only respond to proposed adverse actions. Under the new revisions, a field grade officer still has the opportunity to respond to proposed adverse actions from an investigation or inquiry. An officer now also has the opportunity to respond to adverse information from an administrative investigation even when that information does not lead to adverse action against the officer.
The officer is not entitled to respond to adverse information from an inquiry, only from administrative investigations. “Adverse information” is defined in the regulation as any adverse finding from an investigation or inquiry that is supported by more evidence than opposes it. The approval authority must notify the officer before taking final action—either approving the adverse finding or moving forward with the adverse action.
The procedures for responding to a pending adverse action or pending adverse information are the same. First, the approval authority must give notice to the responding officer of the pending adverse action or finding, along with the portion of the report supporting the adverse finding or action. After receiving notice, the officer will then have at least 10 days to respond to this referral. If the officer cannot respond within 10 days, the approval authority is encouraged to offer extensions for reasonable explanations.
The officer can submit his response in the form of a rebuttal memorandum, additional evidence in any format, letters of support, or any other format he or she or their legal counsel deem appropriate. Upon completion of the response, the officer submits the response to the unit legal advisor, who will prepare the materials for the approving authority.
After receiving the response, the approval authority must consider the response provided by the officer. The approval authority can choose to approve, modify or disapprove any relevant finding(s) or recommendation(s) based on the information in the response. If the approval authority chooses not to do any of the above, the final findings along with the officer’s response will be filed in AIPP and remain there for 10 years. The officer selection board will be able to consider all documents related to the investigation in AIPP before making a final decision.
In addition to submitting a response, an officer still has the potential opportunity to request reconsideration of findings of an inquiry or investigation upon the discovery of new evidence. This has not changed from the old provisions of AR 15-6. In order to be new evidence, that evidence must not have been considered and must not have been reasonably available for consideration during the time of the investigation. A request for reconsideration must be submitted within one year of approval of the investigation. The reconsideration is submitted to the legal advisor, and the advisor submits the reconsideration request to the approval authority. If the approval authority decides to change the finding, he must update that finding in AIPP.
After the investigation and any reconsideration requests have concluded and been filed in AIPP, colonels being considered for brigadier general have one final opportunity to respond before the convening of the promotion selection board. Before the convening of the promotion board, Headquarters Department of the Army will screen the AIPP database for adverse information against the officer being considered for promotion. If HQDA discovers adverse information, HQDA will give the officer an opportunity to respond to that adverse information. The officer can respond in the same manner as he would during an investigation and submit his response directly to the officer selection board. His response will be considered along with the rest of his file in AIPP.