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Understanding the Army’s Qualitative Management Program (QMP)

June 4, 2024

If you are an Army NCO recently identified for possible involuntary separation through the Qualitative Management Program (QMP), it’s important to fully understand the QMP process and your rights. Consulting with an experienced military lawyer can help ensure you are treated fairly and explore all your options.

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What is the Qualitative Management Program (QMP)?

The Army’s Qualitative Management Program, or QMP, is a system for identifying NCOs (in ranks E-5 through E-9) whose performance, conduct, and/or potential for advancement do not meet Army standards. The purpose is to enhance the quality of the NCO corps by selectively retaining the best-qualified Soldiers.

Under QMP, NCOs may be denied continued service and involuntarily separated from the Army before their scheduled separation or retirement date. Factors considered in the QMP screening process include:

Moral or Ethical Conduct Incompatible with NCO Values

NCOs are expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity, honor, and professionalism. The Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage form the bedrock of the NCO corps.

Conduct that violates these core values may be grounds for QMP referral. This can include things like:

  • Misuse of authority or government resources
  • Fraternization or improper superior-subordinate relationships
  • Alcohol or substance abuse incidents
  • Assault, harassment, or abusive treatment of others
  • Lying, cheating, or making false official statements
  • Conduct unbecoming of an NCO

Any substantiated misconduct, unethical behavior, or conviction by military or civilian authorities may trigger the QMP process if it reflects a pattern of poor judgment inconsistent with Army values.

Lack of Potential to Perform NCO Duties

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NCOs are the backbone of the Army, serving as leaders, trainers, and standard-bearers. With each promotion comes increased responsibilities and expectations.

If an NCO demonstrates a lack of potential to perform duties at their current or future rank, they may be identified for possible QMP separation. Factors considered include:

  • Inability to handle leadership responsibilities
  • Poor judgment and decision-making skills
  • Failure to develop necessary technical or tactical proficiency
  • Inability to manage and supervise subordinates effectively
  • Low advancement potential based on performance/education/experience

The QMP process assesses if an NCO has reached their peak potential and is unlikely to succeed at higher levels of responsibility, which may warrant denial of continued service.

Declining Performance Trends

NCOs are expected to continually grow and improve as leaders. A pattern of declining performance is a red flag that an NCO’s capabilities may no longer meet Army needs.

Performance issues that can trigger QMP include:

  • Downward trend in evaluation reports (NCOERs)
  • Failure to meet basic NCO competencies and attributes
  • Decreasing levels of authority and responsibility over time
  • Stagnant or declining technical proficiency
  • Inability to meet duty requirements in a satisfactory manner

The QMP process looks beyond isolated incidents to identify NCOs with a sustained downward performance trajectory that falls short of established standards.

Recent or Continuing Disciplinary Problems

NCOs are expected to lead by example and maintain good order and discipline. A history of disciplinary issues raises questions about an NCO’s ability to be an effective leader.

Disciplinary concerns that may result in QMP referral include:

While a single incident does not automatically trigger QMP, multiple or severe disciplinary issues indicate an NCO falls short of behavior and conduct expectations.

Failure to Complete Required Training

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NCOs must continuously develop their skills and knowledge. The Army requires regular professional military education, job-specific training, and self-development.

Training deficiencies that may lead to QMP include:

  • Failure to complete mandatory leadership courses (e.g., BLC, ALC, SLC)
  • Inability to meet MOS proficiency standards
  • Lack of required certifications or qualifications
  • Failure to pursue educational goals and self-improvement

NCOs who fail to complete required training demonstrate a lack of commitment to professional growth and may lack the competencies for future responsibilities.

Failure to Maintain Army Standards

NCOs must consistently meet or exceed the Army’s high standards in all areas. Failure to maintain physical fitness, weight control, personal appearance, or regulation compliance may trigger QMP referral.

Specific issues can include:

  • Repeatedly failing the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT)
  • Exceeding body fat composition standards
  • Poor military bearing and appearance
  • Inability to pass required medical/dental readiness evaluations
  • Failure to comply with grooming, uniform, or tattoo policies

NCOs who fail to meet Army readiness and appearance benchmarks set a poor example for junior Soldiers and may face QMP action.

NCOs are screened under the QMP by a centralized selection board after being identified and referred by their chain of command. The QMP board comprehensively reviews the NCO’s record, including evaluation reports, disciplinary history, service history, awards, education, etc.

If the QMP board determines an NCO should be denied continued service, the NCO is placed on the QMP list and notified of the board’s decision. At this point, the NCO can appeal the decision, request voluntary separation, or apply for retirement (if eligible).

QMP Appeal Process

NCOs identified for denial of continued service under the QMP have the right to appeal the board’s decision. The QMP appeals process includes:

Submitting a Written Appeal

After being notified of QMP selection, you have a limited time to submit a written appeal that refutes the reasons for the denial of continued service. This is yo

Two soldiers in desert camouflage during a military operation.

ur main opportunity to make a case for your retention.

In the written appeal, you should address each factor that led to your QMP referral and argue why the military should retain you. This may involve ex

plaining extenuating circumstances, taking responsibility for mistakes, and highlighting your accomplishments and potential.

The written appeal should paint a complete picture of your situation and performance. It’s not enough to simply say the allegations are wrong – you need to back up your points with evidence and examples.

Providing Supporting Documentation

In addition to the written appeal and personal appearance, you can submit evidence and documentation to support your case for retention.

This may include:

  • Letters of support from supervisors, peers, or subordinates
  • Awards, certificates, or other recognition of accomplishments
  • Performance evaluations showing a track record of success
  • Documentation of extenuating circumstances or hardships
  • Proof of completed training, education, or certifications
  • Medical records or other relevant information

The goal is to provide tangible evidence to reinforce the points in your written appeal and personal appearance. A military lawyer can help identify what types of supporting documentation may be most persuasive in your case.

Letters of support can be particularly powerful. Hearing from others who can speak to your character, work ethic, skills, and potential carries weight with the board. A military attorney can advise who to approach for letters and what information to include.

Any supporting documentation must be clear, concise, and directly relevant to your appeal. Quality is more important than quantity. A military lawyer can review the evidence and help select the most effective materials.

The QMP Appeals Board, composed of senior NCOs and officers, carefully considers each appeal. They may recommend retaining the NCO, separating them from service, or other outcomes like mandatory reclassification or reduction in grade. The final decision rests with the Deputy Chief of Staff Army G-1.

Retirement or Separation Under QMP

If an NCO is denied continued service under the QMP and loses their appeal (or chooses not to appeal), they face mandatory involuntary separation or, if eligible, may request retirement.

NCOs with 20 or more years of service may apply for voluntary retirement instead of QMP separation. This allows them to leave the Army with full retirement benefits, albeit possibly earlier than planned.

NCOs with less than 20 years of service are ineligible for retirement under QMP. If separated, they may receive separation pay and transition assistance benefits depending on their specific circumstances. However, a QMP separation can negatively impact future employment prospects and veteran’s benefits.

How a Military Lawyer Can Help

Being identified for QMP can be a stressful and demoralizing experience. Your military career and future are on the line. A skilled military lawyer can be an advocate for you through the QMP process and fight for your retention.

Specifically, a military attorney can:

Clarify Reasons for QMP and Explain Options

Receiving notification of QMP selection can be confusing and overwhelming. A military attorney can explain exactly why you were identified for potential separation and what options you have.

An attorney can review the specific factors that led to your QMP referral and explain each one. They can also outline the different paths available, such as appealing the decision, applying for retirement, or requesting voluntary separation.

This information is the key to making informed decisions about how to proceed. A military lawyer can weigh the pros and cons of each approach and advise on the best strategy for your situation.

By clarifying the reasons for QMP and your options, you can better prepare yourself for what lies ahead and make smart choices to protect your interests.

Review Your Record and Identify Retention Arguments

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If you decide to appeal your QMP identification, you must make a compelling case for your retention. A military attorney can be a valuable partner in developing persuasive arguments.

One of the first steps is conducting a thorough review of your military record. A lawyer can review your performance evaluations, awards, training records, and other key documents to identify strengths and accomplishments.

They can also spot potential problem areas that may have contributed to your QMP referral. By proactively identifying these issues, you can better address them head-on in your appeal.

As an objective third party, a military lawyer can provide fresh eyes and insights you may have missed. They can help reframe your record positively and find angles to argue for your retention.

With a military attorney’s assistance, you can develop a strategic approach to your QMP appeal that maximizes your chances of success.

Help Procure Persuasive Supporting Documentation

In addition to the written appeal and personal appearance, you can submit evidence and documentation to support your QMP case. A military lawyer can be a big help in rounding up persuasive materials.

One of the most powerful forms of supporting evidence is letters from people who can speak to your character, work ethic, leadership abilities, and potential. A military attorney can help identify who to approach for letters and what information to include.

They may suggest contacting current or former supervisors, peers, subordinates, or others who can provide compelling testimony on your behalf. A lawyer can also advise on the most effective format and content for these letters to ensure maximum impact.

In addition to character references, a military attorney can assist in gathering other relevant documentation such as awards, training certificates, positive performance evaluations, or evidence of extenuating circumstances. An attorney can select the most persuasive materials and organize them for a clear presentation to the board.

Ensure You Are Treated Fairly in the QMP Process

As with any military administrative proceeding, you must be treated fairly by your command, the QMP board, and the Army throughout the QMP process. You have rights the Army should respect.

A military lawyer can serve as a watchdog to ensure the Army follows proper procedures and does not treat you unlawfully. They can help look for red flags and raise objections if issues arise.

If you feel you are being treated unfairly at any point, a military attorney can intervene on your behalf. They can engage with your chain of command, the board, or other Army officials to address problems and protect your interests.

Explore Alternative Options to QMP

"Military retirement" written on a piece of paper.

While the main focus of the QMP process is normally on fighting for retention, a military lawyer can also explore alternative options if staying in the Army is not feasible or desirable.

If you are eligible for retirement (typically after 20 years of service), a lawyer can advise you on the pros and cons of applying for retirement instead of QMP separation. They can identify the benefits you will be entitled to and the implications for your future.

In some cases, voluntary separation may be preferable to the QMP process, especially if the odds of a successful appeal are low. A military attorney can explain the voluntary separation process and help you decide whether this might be a good option.

It may also be possible to seek a different resolution to QMP, such as reclassification to a different MOS or a reduction in grade. A lawyer can determine if these alternatives are realistic possibilities and advise you on how to seek them.

Don’t Go Through the QMP Process Alone

If you are facing QMP identification, contact a military attorney today for a consultation. An attorney can advise you on your specific situation and help chart a path forward.

Don’t let the QMP derail your Army career without a fight. Get the professional legal assistance you need.

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