DOPMA/ROPMA Policy Reference Tool

The joint service color guard displays the American and service flags during the 2015 USO Gala in Washington, D.C.

Photo by the U.S. Department of Defense

This website contains accumulated information about the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act (DOPMA) and Reserve Officer Personnel Management Act (ROPMA) policies and practices.

About This Website

The military services manage their officer corps with the primary goal of fulfilling roles and missions that support the national security strategy. Within that broad goal, they also manage their officers to provide them with individual opportunities and a reasonable quality of life, in a cost-effective way. Officer management occurs within a framework of law, policy, and practice. If one of the services wishes to alter its management of military officers, its ability to do so depends on what governs the specific activity. Changing a law requires Congressional and Presidential action, typically a lengthy process. Changing a service policy practice can happen much more quickly.

This resource was developed by researchers at RAND in the fall of 2010 and updated in spring 2021. It describes the laws and policies that affect various aspects of active and reserve component officer personnel management. It identifies salient aspects of law and policy but does not attempt to provide a comprehensive review of either. For example, there are nearly 60 sections of Title 10 that address some aspect of retirement pay, which have been distilled to a few paragraphs within this resource. Many of the policy documents are dozens of pages long, often with very detailed procedural instructions that are largely excluded from this resource. The summaries of law and policy are meant to reflect how the officer corps is generally managed and are not meant to provide precise legal interpretations.

How to Use This Website

This site and all referenced policy documents are publicly available. The menu at the left appears on each page. The headings or subheadings provide links to pages with information on law, policy, and practice related to a particular aspect of military officer management. Each page has links to U.S. Code, DoD directives and instructions, and service policy documents. All of the information is publicly available. Lastly, each page has links for further reading.

Users of this resource can also provide feedback on the content.

Policy Resources

U.S. Code Title 10: Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute

DOD Policy: Washington Headquarters Services

Air Force Policy: Air Force e-Publishing Publications and Forms

Army Policy: Army Publishing Directorate

Navy Policy: Department of the Navy Issuances

Marine Corps Policy: Marine Corps Publications Electronic Library