Bookmark and Share
Online guide to completing and improving your US Navy FITREPs and Evals
NavyFITREP.com
GUIDANCE ON WRITING BETTER BRAG SHEETS
Reporting seniors are charged with accurately documenting the performance of all
members of their command. Reservists may encounter their reporting senior only once per
month, sometimes less. To aid in the accurate recollection of a sailor’s contributions, all
leaders (and sailors) should keep written, ongoing records of performance. These
submissions are often referred to as “brag sheets.” Fitness reports (FITREPs) serve three
functions: they document performance, provide feedback, and serve as basis for decisions
by selection boards. Poor FITREP inputs are the inevitable result of last minute
recollections of the year’s contributions written in haste. FITREPs and OSR/PSR breakouts
are the single,  most important element in promotion decisions made by boards.

Your best influence over that process is quality input. Early implementation of our current
FITREP format in 1995-1997 often resulted in reports that provided a laundry list of actions
with no qualification of the impact. Trying to interpret these reports still frustrates boards
today. Today, the standard is to write concise, meaningful FITREPs that document what the
sailor did, quantifies it, and shows the impact of the accomplishment. Long-winded
narratives are difficult to read during boards. The preferred format is a series of short,
concise statements called “bullets.” A poor bullet might be, “Served capably and superbly
as AT coordinator,  completing all assigned tasks on time.” Remember the formula for
bullets: it tells what the sailor did, quantifies it, and shows the impact. A better bullet might
be, “Coordinated 50 simultaneous AT periods, enabling supported command to deploy to
Iraq.” Write brag sheet inputs in this format. Condense final FITREP bullets down to their
essence.

The first rule of a good brag sheet is that it starts the day after the last reporting period
ends.  take it a working document that evolves and grows from month-to month. Take five
minutes at the end of the last drill to write down the month’s accomplishments before
heading for the parking lot. Consider using the
NAVFIT98 software itself; the limited
comment space in block 41 will provide the discipline to avoid writing too much. If you run
out of room, discard the least important bullet. That way, your input gets better over time.
When writing FITREPs, or even brag sheets, write for the board. Document actions that
demonstrate why this person should be selected for promotion, or serve in a command
billet, or receive a pay billet. A good question to ask when writing a bullet is “so what?” Is
there a meaningful answer to that question? If not, leave it out. For example, “LCDR Bravo
completed the PRT with a score of excellent (low).” So what? Would that influence a board
to promote Bravo to CDR? Probably not. Leave it out.

Comments that help a board make promotion decisions are those that show demonstrated
leadership and measurable results with a definite benefit – especially contributions to one’s
supported command. Always put significant accomplishments from AT into a regular
FITREP. Many boards don’t look carefully at AT FITREPs; many commands no longer
provide them. A concern many sailors face is that they have to dig pretty deep to fill in a list
of accomplishments for the year. Sometimes, they pile it pretty deep, too. “Fluff ” never
promotes; nor do PRT results; nor 100 percent drill attendance; nor being in a church
choir. If you haven’t done much so far this year, shame on you. Get busy, get to work, and
start documenting. Reporting seniors should  resist the urge to fill white space with drivel.
Boards will see through it and will lose respect for the writer. Use midterm counseling to
document accomplishments to date, and get the reporting senior to endorse them in
writing.  

The final, signed FITREP becomes a matter of record, so ensure that you validate any
claims. It is rumored that we could balance the federal budget every year with the
aggregated cost savings claimed on FITREPs. Remember that brag sheets may route
through several layers of unit management; allow sufficient time for Admin, XOs, and COs
to prepare smooth FITREPs. Input submitted three months ahead of FITREP time nominally
loses only six days of observation. If you anticipate additional significant accomplishments,
leave space, and provide an update with the missing information. Entrepreneur Nido
Qubein reminds us that “garbage in, garbage out” isn’t exactly true. Rather, garbage in,
garbage stays. Then it gets pregnant and gives birth to triplets. Anyone who has had a
“bad” FITREP in his/her record knows this is true. The best way to avoid bad FITREPs is to
deliver performance and to provide good, substantiated inputs in a timely fashion.
Remember, your FITREP will influence your career long after your reporting senior has
retired or forgotten about you. Make sure it is the very best possible.