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Editorial: Fix records fiasco now

Jun. 25, 2013 - 06:14PM   |  
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Rampant errors in service records. Mass confusion among sailors. Outdated, inaccurate, contradictory policies that combine to reveal a total breakdown in the Navy's personnel system.

Rampant errors in service records. Mass confusion among sailors. Outdated, inaccurate, contradictory policies that combine to reveal a total breakdown in the Navy's personnel system.

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Rampant errors in service records. Mass confusion among sailors. Outdated, inaccurate, contradictory policies that combine to reveal a total breakdown in the Navy’s personnel system. Even worse — these problems put advancement and retention decisions in question.

These shocking findings were outlined nine months ago by a special fact-finding team at the chief of naval personnel’s office. After screening 750 records randomly selected for review, investigators found something wrong in every ... single ... one.

“The absence of standardized processes, confusing and conflicting policy, and a system-wide lack of training all but guarantee that a majority of personnel records are inaccurate and/or incomplete,” concludes the report, which was completed last September. Since then, little has changed.

Leadership should have sounded an alarm. Instead, it’s done almost nothing, a senior official tells Navy Times.

The result, he argues: Bogus information is being used to make career-altering decisions for sailors.

It also begs the question: If the Navy can’t get personnel records straight, what about warfare qualifications, maintenance records and readiness checks? What is the ripple effect from such systemic ineptitude?

Rear Adm. Cindy Covell, head of Navy Personnel Command, said the findings, while critical, are not a surprise.

She assured Navy Times there are already behind-the-scenes efforts underway to resolve these issues, including improved training and standard procedures.

But the broken system has been a positive for one sailor, who told Navy Times the service lost the records of his NJP for unauthorized absence, allowing him to re-up. Good for him?

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