WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2011 — Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh today released a report to Congress, updating improvements made at Arlington National Cemetery more than a year after he ousted the cemetery’s leadership and made sweeping changes in its structure and oversight.
|Each grave in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., was decorated with an American flag on Memorial Day, May 30, 2011. |
U.S. Army photo by Anthony Walker
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“In just over a year, the cemetery’s new management team has made major progress in reconciling decades’ worth of paper records with physical graveside inspections to regain accountability,” McHugh wrote in a letter to members of Congress. “They have put in place new policies and procedures to protect against and prevent the type of errors uncovered in the Army’s previous investigations,” the letter says. “Equipment and training have been modernized, contracting procedures revamped, a historic partnership created with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the workforce improved and reinvigorated, and ongoing outreach and information has been provided to family members and the American public.”
McHugh provided the report to congressional oversight committees in response to legislation seeking the status of reforms he directed. In compiling the report, McHugh directed the Army’s inspector general to again inspect the facility to determine compliance.
An earlier inspector general report, also ordered by McHugh, found failures in management and oversight that contributed to the loss of accountability, lack of proper automation, ineffective contract compliance and a dysfunctional workforce.
“Perhaps most important, the inspector general found the mismanagement that existed prior to these changes no longer exists,” he told Congress yesterday. “And that significant progress has been made in all aspects of the cemetery’s performance, accountability and modernization.
“We’re confident that the Army is on the right path toward repairing the cemetery’s failures and restoring the confidence of Congress and the American people,” he added.
McHugh noted that even while making massive improvements in the cemetery’s management and oversight, the pace of 27 to 30 funeral services per day — many with full military honors — has not abated.
“Since 1864, the United States Army has been steward of this, the country’s only active military shrine,” he said. “I believe this report will demonstrate the Army’s steadfast commitment to repairing what was broken in the past, and ensuring America’s continued confidence in the operation of its most hallowed ground.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)