A Guide for the Air Force Officer and DoD Civilian
Writing Effective EPRs and Awards
Source: The Enlisted Professional Development Committee 21st Space Wing
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EPRs AND AWARD PACKAGES
One of the most important things you can do for your people is to write an effective EPR/OPR and Award package. We can't give them money or stripes, but we can increase their chance for success by following these guidelines.
Even if you know how to write an effective package, the following tips can be very beneficial. These packages are more important than you may think because sometimes they are the sole source of support for the individual since he/she doesn't always have an opportunity to appear before the board.
- Writing a good performance report or award takes time--devote a little of your time to give your people the quality product they deserve
- Bullets must be in laymen's terms so anyone can understand; DO NOT use AFSC specific nomenclature
- Bullets should state facts and should show impact with numbers--dollars saved, sorties generated, etc.
- Start out with your strongest words
- Don't use flowery words
- Keep it to one line whenever possible
- If two lines are necessary, ensure the bullet uses at least half of the second line
- A bullet will not be more than 3 lines in length
- Don't put too much emphasis on activities outside of primary job
- Use the best bullets in the endorsements
- Include awards and honors (such as Distinguished Graduate or Amn/NCO/SNCO of the Quarter for the Squadron, Group or Wing) in the final endorsement block
- Do not proclaim "Best in the AF" unless reportee has won AF-level award
- Emphasis is needed on leadership
- Achievements should show breadth of experience
- Different positions within AFSC
- Different levels of command
- Be consistent! Don't say the ratee walks on water and then mark him/her down on the front
- If people are constantly rated as a 5, they should have awards in addition to medals to support it
- Be sure the front and back of EPRs support each other. The back must have comments regarding any mark-downs
- If you rate a person as a 5, justify it by filling the entire section
- If it is difficult to write an EPR, the individual probably doesn't deserve a 5
- Ratees should be evaluated against their peers- consider how they measure up compared to others of the same grade, same AFSC.
If the ratee has accomplishments, show him/her in the strongest leadership position as opposed to being on the sidelines. Use action words!
Duty title and duty descriptions are important, but the description is the real key. The duty description should emphasize responsibilities, to include number supervised, dollar values of systems managed, etc. Also include any significant additional duties. DO NOT use a canned duty description straight out of their CFETP!
- The book “Writing Guide for Air Force Efficiency Reports” is an absolute must read
THE TOOL KIT
This section should benefit the rater in developing good bullets. The process of writing bullets may be very different from your usual writing style. Basically, the bullet is nothing but a statement with all the fat, gristle, sinew, and skin trimmed off leaving nothing but lean meat for the reader to digest.There are several approaches to writing the bullet.
- Action verb followed by the fact, results with numbers and dollars if at all possible
- Stand alone comment without further explanation
Okay, now it's time to grab the bullet by the horns and write it! Take a look at the following examples of the old narrative style or writing:
- Recruiting poster sharp in his dress and personal appearance, he is a role model worthy of emulation and was recently selected for the 2O FW's Chiefs Group's Look Sharp Award
Now let's rewrite that in the bullet format with the most common format
- Exemplified highest standards of dress and personal appearance--selected for 20 FW Chief’s Group's Look Sharp Award; best of 1,500 airmen
- During DESERT STORM, he was the consummate senior NCO--blending outstanding technical skill and expertise with superb managerial and leadership ability. These attributes led to his selection as Third Air Force's Civil Engineer of the Year, 1991.
change to this:
- Selected as Third Air Force's “Civil Engineer of the Year” for 1991; recognized for actions at forward operating location during DESERT STORM
Now, don't the bulletized version read a lot faster and smoother? Notice how they get right to the point and do not beat around the bush? That's the advantage of the format, it's easier and faster to read--it's also easier to write.
Basically, tell what the person did and then what the impact of the action had on the work center, squadron, group, wing, etc.
More examples of weak bullets:
- Performed additional duty of pump test monitor. Tested 17 vehicles annually to ensure they pumped at rated capacity and were able to support the mission
Why is it weak? The job description already said his additional duty was a pump test monitor, so it is unnecessary to repeat it. In addition, the bullet is too long and reads like a narrative. It could be improved as follows:
- Performed pump tests on 17 vehicles, ensured optimum readiness of the vehicle fleet and contributed to an "Excellent" rating in the Nov 91 Unit Effectiveness Inspection
- Supported operation PROVIDE COMFORT as a volunteer for temporary duty in Southwest Asia. Established a fire department in Yukekova, Turkey. Commandeered vehicles and equipment that had the fire department up and running in three days.
Why is it weak? Bullet is far too long and reads like a narrative. It also contains a lot of unnecessary words. Here's an example:
- Established a fire department at a bare-base location in Yukekova, Turkey—obtained necessary vehicles and equipment; operational in 3 days!
(Note the “fact-impact” format)
- Reorganized and upgraded Pass & ID facility on off-duty time--saved over $5,000 in labor costs
- Developed a comprehensive 20-page training pamphlet for newly-assigned personnel--improved overall job knowledge and quality of performance
- Top Airman! Selected as the 321st Missile Group “Airman of the Quarter” for the second quarter 1994
- Star performer! Received only stripe available from 321 MG/CC for STEP promotion to Staff Sergeant
- Currently enrolled at University of North Dakota--earned 9 semester hours with a 3.8 GPA
- Best in command! HQ AFSPC's “Financial Management Specialist of the Year” for 1994
- Achieved an outstanding 99.2 percent on his initial standardization evaluation as a Keys and Codes Controller—highest score among 25 NCOs assigned
- Organized a team for the March of Dimes "Walk America" 20K march--raised over $500 to combat birth defects
- Volunteer phone bank supervisor at Easter Seal telethon; surpassed its goal--raised $32,000
- Implemented a phase training program; reduced required training time of newly assigned personnel by one year--saved $14,000
- Co-chaired “Operation White Christmas”; planned and organized entire program—raised over $17,000 for over 200 needy enlisted families