The DA Form 2823 is used for a variety of purposes from documenting informal counseling to recording evidence for an investigation. The guidance for filling out the form is in AR 15-6, Procedures for Investigating Officers and Boards of Officers. The section providing instruction for filling out the form is quoted below. Either a chronological narrative or the more formal question and answer format may be used. See examples below.
c. Taking Testimony or Statements in an Investigation
(1) In formal proceedings or if directed by the appointing authority, witnesses’ statements should be obtained through a question-and-answer format. However, narrative testimony may also be considered.
(2) In informal proceedings, witnesses may first verbally share their knowledge, which will later be summarized in writing. To aid in the preparation of written statements, a tape recorder may be used with the witness’s consent. The interviewer must be careful not to influence the witness or suggest specific facts. The final statement should reflect the witness’s own words, and they may be asked to review, correct, and sign it.
(3) The decision to administer an oath to the witness is at the discretion of the investigating officer or president. If an oath is required, using DA Form 2823 (Sworn Statement) is recommended. In cases where the witness is unavailable or unwilling to sign, the person who took the statement must note the reasons for the lack of signature and certify that the summary accurately represents what the witness stated.
(4) Regardless of whether the proceeding is formal or informal, to save time and resources, witnesses may be asked to confirm previously provided written, sworn, or unsworn statements, which would be treated as exhibits. Witnesses can still be questioned further regarding the content of these statements.
(5) Previous statements made by a witness may be used as evidence on factual issues, irrespective of the form (sworn or unsworn) or when and where they were taken, and even if the witness is deemed unavailable.
d. Discussion of Evidence
An investigating officer or board has the authority to instruct witnesses subject to Army authority not to discuss their statements or testimonies with other witnesses or individuals not officially involved in the proceedings. This precautionary measure helps to prevent potential influence on the testimonies of other witnesses who are yet to be heard. However, witnesses are not restricted from discussing relevant matters with the recorder, a respondent, or counsel for a respondent.
e. Privacy Act Statements
(1) Providing a Privacy Act statement (in accordance with AR 340-21) is necessary if the report of proceedings will be filed in a system of records accessible by the witness’s name or personal identifier. The investigating officer or board can presume that the report will be retrievable by the name of each designated respondent but not by the names of other witnesses unless specifically informed otherwise by the appointing authority. Any questions regarding the need for a Privacy Act statement should be referred to the legal advisor or servicing JA.
(2) The Privacy Act statement can be provided in written or oral form but must be given to the witness before their testimony or statement is taken. For written statements, it should be attached to the report as an enclosure. For oral statements, it should be noted in the report, either as part of a verbatim transcript or as an enclosure, with a certificate from the officer who provided the Privacy Act statement.
(3) Any individual affected by this requirement has the right to receive a copy of the Privacy Act statement in a suitable format. For respondents, providing the relevant part of the report of proceedings (as per para 5-10) containing the statement would satisfy this requirement. Other witnesses who receive a Privacy Act statement should also be provided a copy upon request.