Beginning with the 2022 developmental education designation process, the Air Force will transition away from the Definitely Attend, or DA, program that began in 2017.
The DA program was intended to give senior raters greater influence in the developmental education selection process.
Under the DA program, senior raters could award DA recommendations to officers they wanted to ensure were selected for developmental education, guaranteeing designation in an in-residence program for Intermediate Developmental Education, or IDE. This could include those who had a sustained record of superior performance, or those whose recent performance had improved significantly, who otherwise may have not been selected under the previous selection process.
However, the Air Force found a variety of unintended second-order effects across the officer corps as well as impacts to the service’s ability to meet needed developmental requirements across all career fields.
Recent modifications to the IDE selection process have allowed the Air Force to make this transition while still addressing the original issues and intent behind the creation of the DA program.
The changes include the requirement of a mandatory stratification statement by senior raters for each of their nominees, continuing the effort to enhance the senior rater’s voice to the board by clearly articulating the priority for their nominated officers.
Also, board members are now limited to reviewing the last five years of a member’s record, emphasizing recent performance, which provides greater opportunity for officers whose performance may have accelerated and improved significantly in recent years.
“Although well-intended, there was not an easily executable way to ensure all IDE-eligible officers and senior raters received an opportunity to utilize the DA process,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services. "In fact, 29% of officers served under senior raters who did not earn a DA, and the opportunity to attend IDE for officers not receiving a DA dwindled to just 13%. In fact, in some career fields, only officers with a DA were able to attend, often shutting out high-quality officers who did not even have an opportunity to earn a DA. This transition still provides opportunities for senior raters to significantly influence the process. This includes their ability to identify and “on-ramp” talented officers who may have bloomed later in their careers. It’s imperative we have an agile and responsive talent management system that develops the officers we need to lead, fight, and win in joint, complex, multi-domain operations.”
These changes will only impact Line of the Air Force (LAF) officers competing to attend IDE. Functional managers for Air Force Medical Services, LAF-Judge Advocate and Chaplain Corps officers will continue to conduct their own selection processes and present their candidate lists for approval.
For more information on Air Force development programs, visit myPers, the Air Force Personnel Center website.