By Terri Moon Cronk
/ Published February 07, 2018
While it may be a small percentage of Defense Department senior officials who fail to uphold the high ideals and ethics required of their critical positions, those who commit misconduct must be held accountable, the acting DoD inspector general said on Capitol Hill today
“The DoD [Office of Inspector General] and the service IGs therefore seek to investigate allegations of misconduct in a thorough, fair, professional and timely way,” Glenn A. Fine said.
Fine testified before a House Armed Services Committee panel on misconduct by senior officials, such as high-ranking military officers in grades O-7 and higher, and senior executive civilian employees.
He said his office saw a significant increase in the number of complaints alleging misconduct by senior DoD officials from fiscal year 2008 to fiscal year 2012, and, since then, the number of these complaints has been has been steady. And although substantiated misconduct rose in that timeframe, the numbers fell in 2017, he added.
“However, I want to make clear our recognition that any misconduct by a senior official is unacceptable,” Fine said.
New Investigation Measures
The DoD acting inspector general laid out for the committee the measures his office has put into effect to further improve misconduct investigations. For example, to standardize investigations across DoD and speed the review process, his office is working to put in place a standardized case-management database among the DoD OIG and military service IGs.
To ensure compliance with laws and regulations and to share best practices among the service IGs, Fine said his office has begun conducting quality-assessment reviews of the service IGs, similar to peer reviews.
“To promote fairness, the DoD OIG provides subjects an opportunity to comment on the accuracy of our substantiated findings through the tentative conclusions letter process prior to completion of our final report,” he said.
To promote transparency, the DoD OIG considers proactive public release of its completed substantiated reports, particularly those with findings of substantiated misconduct involving high-level officials, Fine said.
“To help address timeliness, we have also reallocated resources within the DoD OIG to increase the number of investigators working on misconduct and whistleblower cases,” he said.
However, handling the increasing number and complexity of complaints requires resources, not only for the DoD OIG, but also for the service and component IGs, Fine told the committee.
“It is critical to adequately resource the DoD OIG, as well as the service component IGs, particularly when the DoD continues to grow,” he emphasized.
“The DoD OIG and the service IGs have a challenging, but critically important mission to investigate allegations of misconduct thoroughly, fairly, professionally and timely,” Fine said. “And we will continue to seek to fulfill that important responsibility.”