"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.
"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 the U.S. Senate and House of
Representatives. "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. 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 a directive he signed
that made sweeping reforms at Arlington National Cemetery. 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 said. "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."
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," McHugh 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."
NOTE: The secretary's "Report to Congress" and the Department of
the Army inspector general's report on inspection of Arlington
National Cemetery are available at: http://www.army.mil/arlington .
For more information contact Lt. Col. Lee M. Packnett at 703-697-7592.
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans
Life Member Veterans of Foreign Wars