USA — Arlington Cemetery Officials Punished for Poor Management

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2010 — The top two offi­cials in charge of Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery here were dis­ci­plined after an Army inves­ti­ga­tion found the cemetery’s man­age­ment to be “dys­func­tion­al,” Army Sec­re­tary John M. McHugh announced today at the Pen­ta­gon.

Army National Cemeteries Program / Arlington National Cemetery
Sec­re­tary of the Army John M. McHugh announces at a June 10, 2010, Pen­ta­gon press con­fer­ence that in light of find­ings of inap­pro­pri­ate prac­tices and mis­man­age­ment at Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery, he is reliev­ing the cemetery’s cur­rent super­in­ten­dent and deputy super­in­ten­dent of their duties and plac­ing Kathryn Con­don (right) in the new­ly cre­at­ed role of Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Army Nation­al Ceme­ter­ies Pro­gram.
DoD pho­to by R. D. Ward
Click to enlarge

The Army inspec­tor gen­er­al com­plet­ed a months-long report on June 8 that iden­ti­fied 76 sep­a­rate defi­cien­cies as well as 101 rec­om­men­da­tions to improve oper­a­tions at Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery. Most sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the report found poor record­keep­ing allowed occu­pied gravesites to be improp­er­ly marked or often not marked at all. 

The Army stripped Super­in­ten­dent John Met­zler of all author­i­ty, but he will remain on staff until his retire­ment July 2. His deputy, Thur­man Higgen­both­am, was placed on admin­is­tra­tive leave pend­ing addi­tion­al per­son­nel actions. Both are career fed­er­al civ­il servants. 

“A major­i­ty of these find­ings are deeply trou­bling and unac­cept­able,” McHugh told reporters today at a Pen­ta­gon news con­fer­ence. “The [inspec­tor gen­er­al] found Arlington’s mis­sion ham­pered by dys­func­tion­al man­age­ment, by a lack of estab­lished poli­cies and pro­ce­dures and an over­all unhealthy orga­ni­za­tion­al environment. 

The report deter­mined the improp­er intern­ment of remains, includ­ing the loss of account­abil­i­ty for remains, names and graves list­ed as emp­ty, he said. McHugh also cit­ed improp­er main­te­nance and clean­ing of graves. 

“That all ends today,” he said firm­ly, lat­er adding that “there’s sim­ply no excuse” for the neg­a­tive find­ings in the report. 

McHugh estab­lished a new posi­tion to over­see the Army Nation­al Ceme­ter­ies Pro­gram. Kather­ine Con­don was appoint­ed exec­u­tive direc­tor of the ceme­ter­ies pro­gram and she “has total super­vi­so­ry pow­ers per­tain­ing to all busi­ness and oper­a­tional activ­i­ties asso­ci­at­ed with Army ceme­ter­ies,” the sec­re­tary said. 

Con­don served as the senior civil­ian for the Army Mate­r­i­al Com­mand before accept­ing the position. 

Vet­er­ans Affairs Sec­re­tary Eric K. Shin­se­ki also agreed to lend his department’s exper­tise in ceme­tery oper­a­tions. Patrick K. Hal­li­nan, direc­tor of the Office of Field Pro­grams for the VA, will be tem­porar­i­ly reas­signed as Arlington’s super­in­ten­dent. Hal­li­nan cur­rent­ly over­sees 130 nation­al cemeteries. 

Also, McHugh estab­lished an Army Nation­al Ceme­tery Advi­so­ry Com­mis­sion. For­mer Sens. Bob Dole and Max Cle­land are charged with lead­ing the group. Both for­mer leg­is­la­tors have the expe­ri­ence for the job. Dole co-chaired a com­mis­sion that inves­ti­gat­ed defi­cien­cies at Wal­ter Reed Army Med­ical Cen­ter in 2007, and Cle­land is a for­mer VA secretary. 

McHugh said he’s “deeply grate­ful” for the help he’s enlist­ed. But more notice­ably, the for­mer New York con­gress­man said he was bat­tered with guilt and expressed his apolo­gies to the fam­i­lies of the fall­en buried in Arlington. 

“On behalf of the Unit­ed States Army and on behalf of myself, I deeply apol­o­gize to the fam­i­lies of the hon­ored fall­en rest­ing in that hal­lowed ground who may now ques­tion the care afford­ed to their loved ones,” he said. 

The Army and Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery will bounce back, McHugh said. 

“The Army owes bet­ter,” he said. “I’m unable to explain the past, but I can promise this about the future. The Unit­ed States Army will take every step nec­es­sary to ful­ly ensure that every chal­lenge, every need at Arling­ton is clear­ly under­stood and effec­tive­ly addressed. 

“We owe no less to our depart­ed heroes, no less to the loved ones of this nation who, when the call was sound­ed, stepped for­ward to serve,” McHugh con­tin­ued. “The bet­ter tomor­rows for Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery begin today.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →