Another Special Pays Update from BUMED

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Navy Medicine Leaders,

Please disseminate this very detailed explanation of how we got to this point of delays in the conversion of special pays and the way forward to mitigate and get through this change period. There are new requirements and timelines different than before that have contributed directly to the delays we have experienced in receiving the new pays in a timely manner. The takeaway for me is that once we get through this initial conversion start up it will be much more manageable and the wait time reduced to the prescribed administrative processing time.

Regards to all,

Robert A. Alonso, MD, MA, F.A.P.A.
CAPT MC USN
Deputy Chief, Medical Corps
Medical Corps Career Planner
Office of the Corps Chief BUMED M00C1
1NW153
7700 Arlington Blvd
Falls Church, VA 22042-5135

—–Original Message—–
From: Marin, William L CIV USN BUMED FCH VA (US)
Sent: Wednesday, August 02, 2017 8:18 AM
To: Alonso, Robert A CAPT USN BUMED FCH VA (US); Molinaro, Joseph D CAPT USN BUMED FCH VA (US); Stiff, Raymond D CAPT USN BUMED FCH VA (US); Roy, Deborah E CAPT USN BUMED FCH VA (US)
Cc: Melody, Brendan T CAPT USN BUMED FCH VA (US); Tennyson, Ruby M CAPT USN BUMED FCH VA (US)
Subject: SPECIAL PAYS UPDATE

Deputy Corps Chiefs, I just wanted to update you on where the progression of
the conversion to the Consolidated Special Pays.

– I know you have all heard of the delays in processing the new special
pays, which is the result of the added layer of all pays now having to be
paid by DFAS who has 30 days for their processing. Also, for those pays
such as the previous MC and DC ASP and ISP, which were lump sum payments
that my office could pay before, not only is there the added layer of going
to DFAS, but now the IP which replaced the ASP and ISP is paid in the
paycheck vice as a lump sum. What this has caused is a possible addition
of up to 3-4 weeks from the date DFAS has completed their processing. For
every payday there is an event that occurs called an Update & Extract Date
(U&E), and the U&E occurs approximately 7 days prior to the payday, and the
U&E is specific time. For example, 0100 on that date. There are also
events that occur called Cycles, and what the Cycles do is process entries
to post in an individual’s pay account. The cycles don’t necessarily run
every night, sometimes they may not run for a couple of days, and they don’t
run over the weekends, so DFAS could post an entry three days prior to the
U&E cutoff, but if there are no cycles running between those dates then the
entry will not post until after the U&E cutoff. What the U&E Event does, is
anything that has posted to the individual’s pay account by that U&E
date/time, will post in the upcoming paycheck, but if it misses that cutoff
by even a minute, then it will not reflect until the next paycheck, which is
now 3 weeks away.

Also, since the new IP is paid in the paycheck it is not paid until
after the fact, vice up front like the old ASP and ISP. With the old pays
the member was paid the lump sum up front, but under the IP being paid in
the paycheck the pay is paid after the event occurred. For example, an IP
start date of 1 July 2017 will not reflect in the 1 July 17 paycheck. The
earliest it would reflect, if posted in time, is the 15 July paycheck, and
pay for the last two weeks.

– My office is restricted from sending anything to DFAS earlier than 30 days
prior to the effective date. Although we allow individuals to submit
requests for special pays to my office 60 days prior, the earliest we can
submit to DFAS is 30 days prior to the effective date, so we complete our
processing and then have to hold it until within the 30 days. Plus, my
office also has 30 days in order to process a request before sending it to
DFAS. When the workload is light we usually can complete it within a couple
of weeks, but when the workload is heavy, which this year is due to everyone
having to submit a special pay, and all having to go to DFAS, it will likely
take my office 30 days to process. This creates part of the time delay. Due
to the processing times, and the payday cutoffs, it is likely the earliest
the IP will reflect in a paycheck is at least two paychecks after the actual
effective date, and that is if the request was submitted to my office 45-60
days prior to the effective date. Take a request submitted 15 days prior to
the effective date, my office takes 30 days, DFAS takes 30 days that is
already 45 days past the effective date, and it hasn’t even posted in the
DFAS pay system yet. If it posts in time for the next payday cutoff, which
will be 2-3 weeks then it will be approximately two months from the date the
pay was effective. Individuals need to be patient. I receive dozens of
emails a day inquiring on the status of the request, and some cases a
request that was submitted less than a week prior. Researching the status
of a request takes time away from actually processing requests, so
appreciate if you could push to your Corps to communicate with their command
and let the command contact us if need, and give the process the time to
work. When a request is submitted if there are any issues we will contact
the command/member and let him/her know, so if they haven’t heard anything
then they can expect it is being processed, but they should consult their
commands vice contacting my office.

– DFAS has caught up and for the most part is completing their actions
within the 30 days, but most actions are completed right at the 30 day mark,
and my staff is doing the same. The process is what it is, and both my
staff and DFAS are doing what we can to get requests processed as quickly as
possible, but there is a lot of behind the scenes work that has to be done
both with us, and at DFAS to make a payment happen. DFAS has changed their
policy and rather than stopping the old pays such as VSP and BCP back to the
past they are now crediting the difference between what the individual was
paid for those two pays and what they are eligible for under the new pays.
Then they are stopping the old VSP and BCP the date they are performing the
action. This makes it easier on the member, and does not create debts etc.
as they were doing previously when they first started processing these pays.

– For MC/DC many are inquiring about the increase in their IP for the ASP 1
July 2017. The IP agreement is for one year from their start date, and if
there were any ASP or ISP $ subtracted from their annual IP rate, due to
overlapping pays that $, was subtracted from the annual IP rate, and will be
put back in once the year is over. Any increase to the IP will occur at the
end of the first year, and will start at the beginning of the second year.
Similar to if they terminate and renegotiate their MSP/DOMRB. If they were
paid an anniversary MSP/DOMRB 1 July 2016, the T/R the MSP/DOMRB 1 Oct 16,
they would not be paid the full one year of MSP/DOMRB on 1 Oct 16, the would
receive the prorated portion, which is the difference of what they were paid
1 July2016 for the period 1 Oct 16 – 30 June 17 and the new MSP/DOMRB ending
30 Sep 17.

– When is an officer eligible for the new IP. This applies to all Corps.
An individual is eligible for an IP at the earliest 3 months after the
officer completed the required training for that particular specialty. For
example, a MC officer completes internship 30 June 2017 will become eligible
for either the residency IP, or the GMO IP if not going directly into
residency, 1 Oct 2017 and will have to wait for the FY18 NAVADMIN to be
released to submit. Until that time they will continue to receive the
internship IP, or VSP if they have not converted to the CSP. For residents,
their eligibility date is the same for the specialty IP as long as they are
privileged and practicing on 1 Oct 17. Until then they will continue to be
paid the resident IP, or VSP, if they have not converted. They are eligible
for the BCP prior to 1 Oct 17 if they are board certified, but if they have
not converted to the IP yet they will have to in order to receive the BCP.
They cannot be paid the VSP and the new BCP during the same period, and the
old BCP is no longer available to request. Under the Legacy Special Pays
the same rule existed for the ISP, which was the specialty pay, and MC/DC
officers were not eligible for the ISP until 3 months after completing
residency.

– This firs year is difficult with everyone having to change, and the DFAS
system is not set up for the new pays so everything has bot be performed as
a workaround, to include pays under the legacy special pays. For example,
what was MSP and DOMRG anniversary payments DFAS has realized their system
will not release an MSP/DOMRB anniversary payment if the individual’s VSP
has been stopped, so DFAS has converted everyone under the MSP/DOMRB to a
CRNA-ISP to allow the anniversary payments to be made.

I know this is much more information than what you probably wanted to know,
but I thought it may be helpful to understand how the process works, for all
pay items and not just special pays. As always please do not hesitate to
ask if you have any questions, or need assistance.

We are almost to the end of the FY, and once an individual is in the new
special pays everything will run much smoother for the future. I appreciate
the patience and understanding from all of you, and ask you please let your
Corps know we are doing everything we can to get their pays processed, and
started.

 

SEMPER FI!

William L. “Bill” Marin
Program Manager, Navy Medical Special Pays Program
Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (M13)
7700 Arlington Blvd. (Suite 5125)
Falls Church, VA 22042-5125

When Does the New Incentive Pay Start After Residency Graduation?

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It used to be that after you graduated residency you were immediately eligible to apply for the Additional Special Pay, which was paid in a lump sum of $15,000 and was commonly referred to as the “GMO bonus.”  The ASP no longer exists and that $15K is now lumped into the new Incentive Pay (IP).  Here is how that works for a new residency graduate straight from BUMED Special Pays, and I can only assume the same thing applies to interns who just became Flight Surgeons, UMOs, or GMOs:

“According to the FY17 Pay Guidance the earliest an individual is eligible for an IP rate is 3 months after they complete the qualifying training. For those that completed their residency 30 June 2017, the earliest they are eligible is 1 Oct 17, and since 1 Oct 17 is FY18 they will have to wait for the FY18 NAVADMIN to be released before they can submit to BUMED, provided they are privileged and practicing as well.”

While this may sound like you are losing out on 3 months of a $15K pay, BUMED pointed out that the old ASP used to require a 1 year commitment to receive it.  Frequently officers looking to resign/retire would have a dilemma in their last year where they might have to stick around a little longer in order to receive their ASP or decide to forgo it so they could get out when they wanted.

The new IP no longer has this problem as it is paid monthly once started, so you won’t have to deal with this dilemma anymore.  In other words, you’ll be able to resign/retire without having to make sure it meets the 1 year obligation of your last $15K bonus.  You give up short-term pay for long-term flexibility.

How to Get Considered for Promotion to LCDR Right Away if You are a LT/Intern With Prior Service

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Normally you are not looked at for promotion until you’ve been on active duty for 1 year, but you can ask for this deferment to be waived.  This would be most applicable to any new interns who have prior service and would like to be looked at for promotion to LCDR in the FY19 promotion board that meets in May 2018.

If this is of interest to you, here is how you request a waiver:

  • Submit a waiver of deferment to have your record reviewed by the FY­19 O4 Staff selection board that is scheduled to convene 15 May 2018.
  • In December 2017, there will be a NAVADMIN published (NOTICE OF CONVENING FY­19 NAVY ACTIVE­DUTY PROMOTION SELECTION BOARDS).  This message will provide the eligible zones for paygrades O3 through O6 by competitive category.  Within the message, normally paragraph 5, states, “In­-zone and above­zone eligible officers in the grades of lieutenant, lieutenant commander, and commander, whose placement on the Active­ Duty List is within one year of the convening dates of these boards, are automatically deferred unless they specifically request to be considered. The officer may waive this deferment and request consideration for promotion, in writing, to: Commander, Navy Personnel Command (PERS­-802), 5720 Integrity Drive, Millington, TN 38055­0000. The request must be received by PERS­-802 not later than 30 days prior to the convening date of the board. All officers are reminded it is their responsibility to ensure their personnel records are substantially accurate and complete.”
  • There is no standard format for the letter.  You just need to ensure you clearly identify yourself, state that you wish to waive your deferment for the specific board, and sign the request.
  • PERS would prefer not to receive the letter requesting deferment until after the Notice of Convening message is released.

Special Pays Update

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Here is a brief update on the conversion to the new consolidated pay plan all the Specialty Leaders received yesterday from the Deputy Medical Corps Chief:

“I have heard from almost every corner of the MC community on the delays in payments starting for the new Incentive Pay and Retention Pays as has RDML Pearigen and BUMED leadership. I have raised it in every venue I represent the MC. The backlog is decreasing, but it is still 1­-2 months behind. I know as I am four months behind the start of my IP, so am part of the community pain. DFAS has taken steps (tripling the number of clerks processing Navy Medical Specialty Pays from 1 to 3). Mr. Marin tracks very carefully the pass through of the pay requests through M1 to DFAS and that is not where the problem has existed. It is simply a bottleneck at DFAS. This should be a start­up problem as the military transitioned to the new IP/RP system and schedule and we get past this initial bottleneck. Once we get to steady state we should not experience this level of delay again.”

What Should You Do If You Didn’t Promote?

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If you are particularly interested in this post, I’m sorry. You or someone you care about probably failed to promote. In reality, nowadays it is normal and expected to fail to promote to O5 and O6, so you have company. Here are my suggestions for those that fail to promote.

First, try to figure out why you didn’t promote. Because the promotion board members are not allowed to speak about your board, you’ll never actually find out why you failed to promote, but you can usually take a pretty educated guess if you talk to the right people (like me).

If any of these things happened to you, they are likely a main reason you didn’t promote:

  • Any PFA/BCA failures.
  • Legal issues, such as a DUI or any other legal trouble.
  • Failure to become board certified.

There are other things that could happen to you that make it difficult but not impossible to promote. They include:

  • Coming into zone while in you were in GME.
  • Having non-observed (NOB) fitreps before the board, such as those in full-time outservice training.
  • Spending too much time in the fleet as a GMO, Flight Surgeon, or UMO. This is mostly because it causes you to come into zone for O5 while you are still in GME, and is more of a problem if your residency is long.
  • Never getting a competitive early promote (EP) fitrep. Many officers who fail to select have never had a competitive EP fitrep in their current rank. This can be because they were stationed places without competitive groups and they get 1/1 fitreps, or it can be because they were in a competitive group and did not break out and get an EP. To me this is the #1 ingredient to promote…competitive EP fitreps. If you don’t have them, you are really up against it.
  • Receiving potentially adverse fitreps. This most commonly happens when you are at an operational command and your reporting senior is not someone who is used to ranking Medical Corps officers, although it could happen for other reasons (like your reporting senior felt you deserved this type of fitrep). The most common situation would be if there is a competitive group of 2 officers but both are given must promote (MP) fitreps instead of 1 getting an EP and the other the MP. When both get an MP, it reflects poorly on both officers unless the reason for this is CLEARLY explained in the fitrep narrative, which it often is not. The other thing that happens is that a reporting senior gives you a 1/1 MP instead of a 1/1 EP. If you are ever getting a 1/1 fitrep, make sure you get an EP. You should consider getting a 1/1 MP an adverse fitrep. If there is no way around this, often because the reporting senior has a policy that they don’t give newly promoted officers an EP, make sure that this policy is clear in the fitrep narrative.
  • Having a declining fitrep. Mostly this happens when you go from getting an EP to an MP on your fitrep under the same reporting senior. If it is because you changed competitive groups, like you went from being a resident to a staff physician, that is understandable and not a negative. If you didn’t change competitive groups, though, make sure the reason you declined is explained.
  • Making it obvious to the promotion board that you didn’t update your record. The most obvious ways a promotion board will know you didn’t update your record is if your Officer Summary Record (OSR) is missing degrees that you obviously have (like your MD or DO) or if many of the sections of your OSR are either completely blank or required updating by the board recorders. Remember that although promotion board recorders will correct your record for you, anything they do and any corrections they make are annotated to the board. While a few corrections are OK, you don’t want a blank record that the recorders had to fill in. It demonstrates that you didn’t update your record.

So who actually promotes to O5 and O6? In general, the officer who promotes is:

  • Board certified.
  • Has a demonstrated history of excellence as an officer. In other words, whenever they are in a competitive group, they successfully break out and get an EP fitrep. Being average is just not good enough anymore.
  • They have no PFA failures, legal problems, declining fitreps, or potentially adverse fitreps.
  • They have updated their record, and if they previously failed to select they reviewed their record with their Detailer and actively worked to improve it.

So what do you do if you were passed over and failed to promote?

Realize that it is not the end of the world. Based on the recent promotion board statistics, most officers were passed over for O5 or O6, but a large number of the officers selected were from the above zone group.

If you do nothing, you will continue to get looked at by promotion boards until you retire, resign, or are forced out of the Navy. There is no limit to the number of chances you get to promote and your record will be evaluated for promotion every year. That said…

You need to try to promote. Consider sending a letter to the promotion board. What do you say in this letter? First, briefly state that you want to be promoted and to continue your career in the Navy. Second, explain what a promotion would allow you to do that you can’t do at your current rank. Answer the question, “Why should they promote you?”

For example, if you want to be a Department Head at a large military treatment facility (MTF) or a Residency Director (or whatever you want to do), tell them that you need to be promoted to be competitive for these jobs. The Navy wants to promote leaders. Make it clear to them that you are a motivated future leader.

Try and get letters of support to attach to your letter. These letters should be from the most senior officers who can personally attest to your value to the Navy. In other words, it is probably better to get a letter from an O6 who knows you well than a 3 star who doesn’t. If you are not sure who to ask for letters, ask those more senior to you or your Detailer for advice. Your Specialty Leader is always someone to consider if he/she knows you well and can speak to your contributions to the specialty and Navy.

Have your record reviewed by your Detailer, Specialty Leader, other trusted senior advisor, or by me. Because of promotion board confidentiality, you will never know the reason(s) you did not promote, but most of the time experienced reviewers can come up with an educated guess. They’ll often find things that you were not even aware of, like potentially adverse fitreps, or information missing from your record. My promo prep document will help you as well.

Do everything you can to get “early promote” or “EP” fitreps. This is largely accomplished by continually striving for positions of increased leadership. You need to get a job that has historically led to a promotion.

As a LCDR who got passed over for CDR, try to get one of these jobs and excel at it (this list is not exhaustive and these positions are not the only path to CDR, but they are a good start):

  • Assistant/Associate Residency Director
  • Department Head at a small/medium sized MTF
  • Senior Medical Officer or Medical Director
  • Chair of a hospital committee
  • MEC member

If you are a CDR who got passed over for CAPT, try to get one of these jobs and excel at it:

  • Residency Director
  • Department Head in a large MTF
  • Associate Director or Director
  • Officer-in-Charge (OIC)
  • MEC President
  • Division, Group, or Wing Surgeon
  • CATF Surgeon
  • Specialty Leader

Meet with your chain-of-command. After you’ve been passed over is not the time to be passive. You need to sit down with your leadership and get an honest assessment from them of how you’re doing and what they would recommend continuing to advance your career. You may not like what you hear, but it is better to find out early if they don’t think you’re doing a good job or that you are unlikely to break out on your fitreps. That way you can try and put yourself in a better situation by changing commands.

In addition to the above list of things you should do, there are a few things you should not do:

  • Do not lie in your letter to the board. In other words, don’t tell them you want to do Executive Medicine if you don’t really want to. Your record reads like a book, and if it tells a story that is contrary to what your letter says, this is unlikely to help you and may hurt you.
  • Do not send long correspondence. Promotion boards have to read everything sent to them, and a long letter may not be appreciated. Keep it brief and to the point.
  • Do not ask your current CO to write you a letter to the board if they’ve done an observed fitrep on you. His or her opinion about you should be reflected on that fitrep, so they don’t need to write you a letter. If they’ve never given you an observed fitrep or there is some new information not reflected on prior fitreps, they could either write you a letter or give you a special fitrep. Ultimately it is up to them whether they do either of these or none.
  • Do not discuss anything adverse unless you want the board to notice and discuss it. This issue comes up frequently and people will ask me for advice, but ultimately it is up to the individual officer. The one thing I can guarantee is that if you send a letter to the board and discuss something adverse, they will notice it because they will read your letter! If you think there is a chance the adverse matter will get overlooked, it is probably better not to mention it and keep your fingers crossed.

Those are my tips for those who find themselves above zone. Most importantly, if you want to promote, NEVER STOP TRYING. You can stay in as a LCDR for 20 years, and I personally know of people who got promoted their 9th look!

CV, Military Bio, and Letter of Intent Templates

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Every nominative position requires you to submit a CV, military bio, and letter of intent (LOI), so I always have these documents ready. People are always e-mailing me and asking for templates, so here are some Word documents you can use as you see fit. I’ll also put them in the Useful Documents page.

For CVs there are many, many acceptable formats.  Here is my personal CV:

CAPT Schofer CV – 5 MAY 2020

Here is my military bio:

CAPT Schofer Military Bio – 5 MAY 2020

Here is an old LOI I’ve used:

CDR Schofer LOI

Here is a LOI template created by CDR Melissa Austin when she was an EA:

LOI Template

Here are the BUMED templates if you want a slightly different flavor:

CV Example – BUMED

Letter of Intent Example – BUMED

Military Biography Example – BUMED