WASHINGTON- The Navy is still investigating misconduct allegations against senior officials dating back to 2016, according to Naval Inspector General, Vice Admiral Herman Shelanski.
Many of these cases involve misconduct such as improper relations, misuse of government resources, travel violations and improper personnel actions.
Shelanski, other armed service IGs and the principal deputy IG of the Department of Defense requested additional resources to pump up their staffing which they said would improve the timeliness of their investigations, during a congressional hearing on Wednesday.
“You can only do more with less for so long and it does affect the timeliness of the investigation,” said Department of Defense Principal Deputy IG, Glenn A. Fine.
Fine added that the DoD could use 100 additional staff to support the existing 1,600 investigators, lawyers and others.
The average length of an investigation varies among the services. The Army spends an average of 391 days investigating whistle blower reprisals and 400 days for other complaints. The Marine Corps averages 233 days, while the Air Force averages 187 days for investigations.
When Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., the ranking member, questioned the disparities between services, Army IG Lt. Gen. David E. Quantock said, “one service is much bigger than the other service and the amount of service members does have an impact.”
Some lawmakers and military officials have complained that the lengthy investigative procees resulted in the delay of promotion or retirement of senior officials who eventually were found innocent of misconduct allegations.
Between fiscal 2015 and 2017, there was a 13 percent increase – from 710 to 803 — in complaints alleging misconduct by senior officials, according to a DoD OIG report released last November.
Figure 1: Misconduct Complaints against Senior Officials
Quantock blamed the substantial increase in whistleblower reprisal complaints against senior officials in recent years on a “misuse and misapplication” of the law.
He urged the DoD to provide a clearer interpretation of the reprisal law to help weed out allegations made against senior officials because “they basically held someone accountable.”
The whistleblower protection was created in 1989 to deter management officials from taking or threatening unfavorable actions against employees who use their legal rights to expose management wrongdoing.
Of the 590 substantiated allegations from FY 2013 to FY 2017, 346 were followed up with corrective actions. The services declined to take action on 29 of the 346 cases. In most cases, they declined to take action because of officials’ otherwise exemplary performance, the minor type of misconduct being charged, or disagreement that findings should be substantiated, according to a DoD OIG report presented to the subcommittee.
Speier accused the military of excessive leniency in disciplinary actions against senior officials. “I think we do have a problem with different spanks for different ranks.” She added that it’s “fraudulent” to strike substantiated allegations from the record as in the case of Maj. Gen. John Custer.
The two-star general made his staff buy sexy clothing for a woman with whom he had an inappropriate relationship and lied to investigators about it, according to USA Today.
Fine defended the IGs investigative process, adding that the DoD intends to investigate the claims of disparity in penalties either by rank, service, age, race, gender and other stratifications.