Bloomberg News

Army Seeks Pentagon Probe Into Missile Defense Chief

July 26, 2012

Army Secretary John McHugh asked the Pentagon’s inspector general to investigate whether the director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency misled Congress in a continuing dispute over his leadership.

McHugh requested that Acting Inspector General Lynne Halbrooks review a lawmaker’s concerns that Army Lieutenant General Patrick O’Reilly attempted to “misdirect” a congressional oversight panel asking him to assess his agency’s morale, according to Army spokesman George Wright and congressional correspondence.

The Missile Defense Agency is responsible for developing, fielding and upgrading the nation’s ground- and sea-based missile defense programs. Its top contractors are Boeing Co. (BA:US), Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT:US), Raytheon Co. (RTN:US), Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC:US) and Orbital Sciences Corp. (ORB:US) The Pentagon is seeking $7.7 billion for the agency in fiscal 2013.

O’Reilly wrote the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic panel in May that his agency’s morale was “significantly higher” than average even as the Pentagon’s inspector general found in a May 2 report that he had created an “unhealthy command climate” by yelling at subordinates.

Representative Michael Turner of Ohio, the Republican who heads the panel which oversees the Missile Defense Agency, wrote McHugh July 13 to register his concern about O’Reilly’s “lack of transparency and forthrightness regarding this matter.”

The inspector general “is responsible for reviewing allegations against senior officials,” McHugh wrote Turner yesterday.

‘Serious Concerns’

Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters today that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has “full confidence in the Army to look into this matter.”

The lawmaker “has raised very serious concerns regarding Lieutenant General O’Reilly,” Wright, the Army spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “The secretary of the Army has therefore directed referral of Turner’s letter to the inspector general and requested their review and appropriate action.”

O’Reilly had no comment, his spokesman Richard Lehner said today in an e-mail.

The inspector general found O’Reilly “engaged in a leadership style that was inconsistent” with military ethics regulations, according to the May report by the watchdog office.

“Witnesses testified that O’Reilly’s leadership style resulted in a command climate of fear and low morale,” the inspector general found.

‘Cherry-Picked’ Statements

Reilly portrayed a different atmosphere under his leadership in agency charts sent to the panel on May 30. The office had “significantly higher satisfaction scores than the rest of federal government in training, salary, ethical conduct and diversity,” according to the summary of an employee survey sponsored last year by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

The agency ranked No. 32 of 154 government-wide among most- improved U.S. agencies in fiscal 2011, Reilly said in a statement at the time. “This improvement in morale was achieved despite” the displacement of more than 75 percent of its Washington area workforce because of base-closing requirements, O’Reilly wrote in remarks intended to complete the record of a March hearing.

Turner said in the letter to McHugh that O’Reilly’s response to the House panel “was a series of apparently out of context ‘cherry-picked’ statements and findings that were in sharp disagreement with the IG report.”

“I am deeply concerned there may have been an attempt to misdirect the subcommittee in its oversight,” Turner wrote.

O’Reilly, who served in the agency since the mid-1990s including as manager for the ground-based defensive system, became director in November 2008, a position that previous directors held for about four years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio in Washington at acapaccio@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net


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