Navy personnel officials will take the highly unusual step of changing the membership of a master chief petty officer selection board after its annual deliberations were halted several weeks ago amid evidence that the deliberations were compromised.
In a rare move that is likely to be unpopular in the Navy-wide chiefs mess, the new board will be led by an admiral and will include a unprecedented number of high-ranking officers, according to an official familiar with the matter.
The Navy announced Friday that it will reconvene the 2018 active-duty master chief petty officer selection board on July 24 and will have until Aug. 4 to complete their deliberations.
Changing the membership is an effort to prevent any further compromise issues on the reconvened board — and could possibly impact next year's board and beyond.
"We made this a priority and did everything we could to make sure this board was carried out," said Lt. Cmdr Nathan Christensen, spokesman for the chief of naval personnel. "It's incumbent on us to give those sailors eligible for advancement a fair shot to do so, who through no fault of their own, were affected by the boards' earlier adjournment."
The announcement comes less than a month after Navy personnel officials abruptly stopped this year's initial board after allegations came to light that deliberations had been compromised, resulting in an investigation by officials to determine exactly what happened.
That investigation remains active and sources familiar with the probe say it's in the final stages of review. There's no official word yet as to whether actual misconduct has been identified or if discipline will be doled out.
Navy personnel officials have decided to have a flag officer lead the board and, additionally, about 40 post-command O-5s and O-6s will make up a significant part of the new board's membership, according to an official familiar with the decision.
The remainder of the membership, the message said will include to fleet, force and command master chiefs, however officials say that an update will be issued soon, recruiting master chief's from individual ratings rating and communities will also sit the board as well.
That's a radical change from the past, when the board was always led by a Navy captain. Furthermore, only an average of about 14 officers have been members of each E-9 board over the past few years, and a majority of the board's members were E-9s from representative communities and groups of ratings around the Navy.
Though nothing has officially been decided, it's highly possible that future E-9 selection board membership will follow the same makeup.
The Navy message, NavAdmin 111/17, also said that the board will only evaluate the 3,418 advancement eligible E-8s that were deliberated on by the April board that was shut down and that no new candidates will be added to that list.
It's unclear whether the quotas -- the number of advancement slots will change at all — and that won't be known for sure until the board convenes. That's because, by rule, the actual quotas and names of the members aren't released until that board is in session.
But, the possibility exists that the number of eligible senior chief's could drop if for any reason anyone became ineligible for advancement before the board's July 24 start date.
But to make sure no one is disadvantaged the message also said that anyone on the original eligible list who now has a pending high-year tenure date between July 1 and Nov. 30 this year can request a waiver by June 30 to remain selection board eligible.
"I am very sensitive to the nature of this occurrence and understand it affects many sailors and their families," Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SG/IW) Steven Giordano told Navy Times in response to questions about the new board structure.
"The Navy is a learning organization and we continue learning each day - we are taking lessons learned from this process and will put them in practice for future consideration just as we do with any other situation afloat or ashore."