Many readers have inquired about the “personnel changes” we told you about a few days ago. While Holland announced his dismissal before a large room full of people and confirmed it with the petition and letter writing campaign by his supporters, some of the others – Byrd, Belcher, McKeague and Webb – are denying that they have been fired and they are correct, for now. Our apologies if we weren’t clear about that, we just said it was widely expected and it still is expected.
Holland is a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and, unlike lesser civilian employees, can be dismissed without notice or cause. McKeague is an Air Force Major General and will not be the commander of what for now is being called the New Defense Agency which will replace JPAC and DPMO on January 1, 2015. DASD Winfield, a political appointee, will not be needed by the new agency, either.
That leaves Byrd, Belcher and Webb, all GS employees. They won’t be needed by the New Defense Agency, either. The new agency will be transitioning to a new way of doing business and making identifications which does not rely on anthropologists. The anthropologists who are left can expect to spend much more time deployed than in the lab. (Even now, the CIL anthros average less than one identification per year.)
The question is not if they will be leaving, but under what circumstances and how many others will go with them. If you read the interim OIG report which was widely circulated a few weeks ago (and was to be released several weeks ago), you may have noticed the brevity of several sections. One section that was glossed over pertained to the use of DNA in identifications. You can expect to see and hear much more about this issue between now and the first of next year. The identification process will be moving from the 19th Century to somewhere in the late 20th Century and will require minimal input from anthropologists.
Besides a section on travel and expense irregularities, there was also a rather brief reference to misconduct including sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Approximately 50 current and former members of the MIA accounting community have submitted complaints to the DoD IG and Congress regarding various alleged leadership and management derelictions and abuse. Most of these allegations dealt with JPAC and the CIL
The assessment team contacted and interviewed all complainants referred to the OIG by Congress. While the team was at JPAC and the CIL in February and March 2014, approximately 45 people contacted the team to submit complaints about JPAC and CIL management. The team interviewed many of the complainants at off-site locations.
The assessment team forwarded the allegations to the DoD Hotline for investigation and adjudication.
Taken together, the complaints paint a picture of long-term leadership and management problems resulting in a hostile and dysfunctional work environment, and low morale throughout the accounting community.
If left uncorrected, the problems driving these complaints will be brought into the new Defense agency created by the reorganization of the accounting community as announced by the Secretary of Defense on March 31, 2014, hindering mission accomplishment.
Some of these issues will be addressed when the final report is issued. However, there are multiple additional OIG investigations in to these other areas and these investigations are ongoing. There will definitely be new faces at the new agency. We’ll have to wait to see if there will also be a new way of doing business.
And just as an interesting side note. The letters supporting Holland seem to be having an opposite and unintended effect. They all follow the same script – these are supposedly senior level people and they seem unable to compose an original letter. They all concentrate on Holland’s many awards and what a good guy he is and completely ignore his organizations’ shameful lack of success at accounting for missing American Servicemembers or the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars which have been squandered. The tone of the letters seems to be don’t fire the anthropologists because we can do the job better than the Armed Forces Medical Examiner. Unfortunately for the anthros, they seem to be their own worse enemy.