Hearing Transcript on Arlington National Cemetery: An Update on Reform and Progress
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY: AN UPDATE ON REFORM AND PROGRESS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON DISABILITY ASSISTANCE AND MEMORIAL AFFAIRS
COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS
OCTOBER 6, 2011
SERIAL No. 112-30
Printed for the use of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
JEFF MILLER, Florida, Chairman
CLIFF STEARNS, Florida
BOB FILNER, California, Ranking
Helen W. Tolar, Staff Director and Chief Counsel
SUBCOMMITTEE ON DISABILITY ASSISTANCE AND MEMORIAL AFFAIRS
Pursuant to clause 2(e)(4) of Rule XI of the Rules of the House, public hearing records of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs are also published in electronic form. The printed hearing record remains the official version. Because electronic submissions are used to prepare both printed and electronic versions of the hearing record, the process of converting between various electronic formats may introduce unintentional errors or omissions. Such occurrences are inherent in the current publication process and should diminish as the process is further refined.
C O N T E N T S
October 6, 2011
Arlington National Cemetery: An Update on Reform and Progress
U.S. Department of Defense:
Major General William H. McCoy, USA, Acting Inspector General, Department of the Army
Inspector General Agency
Prepared statement of General McCoy
Kathryn A. Condon, Executive Director, National Cemeteries Program, Office
of the Secretary of the Army, Department of the Army
Prepared statement of Ms. Condon
SUBMISSIONS FOR THE RECORD
American Legion, Ian de Planque, Deputy Director, National Legislative Commission, statement
Reserve Officers Association of the United States, and Reserve Enlisted Association of the United States, joint statement
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY: AN UPDATE ON REFORM AND PROGRESS
Thursday, October 6, 2011
U. S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs,
Committee on Veterans' Affairs,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 11:50 a.m., in Room 334, Cannon House Office Building, Hon. Jon Runyan [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Runyan, Lamborn, Stutzman, McNerney, Barrow, and Walz.
Mr. RUNYAN. Well, good afternoon and welcome. This oversight hearing of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs will now come to order.
I would first like to thank Major General McCoy and thank him for his service, as I have been notified that you will be retiring in November after 37 years of service to this great country. So thank you for your service. And also, Ms. Condon and Mr. Hallinan, for lending us their valuable time to have this discussion about the progress and moving forward at Arlington.
A couple months ago, Ms. Condon and Mr. Hallinan testified before this Subcommittee on the progress they have made after taking over the administration of Arlington following the deplorable report that the Army Inspector General (IG) gave last year. They are here today to continue the discussion of the progress that has been made at Arlington and the work that continues to be done there.
There are many veterans' cemeteries across this great land. Each of these sites is very hallowed ground. Every grave marker honors the memory of our Nation's heroes who have been laid to rest. Yet, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) has long been a national symbol of these sacred memorials while remaining unique and special in the minds of all American citizens.
As I mentioned a few months ago at our previous hearings on Arlington, it is clear that 1 year would not be enough time to correct the many problems at Arlington National Cemetery and to fix every issue brought by the years of neglect and mismanagement. I know we all share this sense of urgency in continuing to address the issues at Arlington and can agree that tremendous strides have been accomplished by the new team.
Ms. Condon and Mr. Hallinan, as the Chair of this Subcommittee, I want to personally commend you for your efforts in bringing about these much-needed changes. Today my focus, and the focus of this hearing, is on the progress moving forward with the strong foundation laid by this new administration at Arlington National Cemetery.
In particular, I should note that this foundation includes the most recent Army IG's report, which found substantial corrections from the past deficiencies identified in the initial report that brought many of these challenges to light. In short, due to your diligence, hard work, and excellent management, the problems which plagued Arlington National Cemetery just 1 year ago have been addressed and the majority have been eliminated.
Moving forward, I hope to learn how the progress will be sustained and your plans to strengthen the improvements already made. In particular, based on the IG's report's key recommendations, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on creation of a multiservice policy for Arlington, long-term command planning and oversight of the Army national cemeteries, and interment wait times and the Cemetery life-span in reaching its full capacity.
Again, I would like to thank all of you for being here today, and thank you for your commitment to this great Cemetery for our true American heroes.
Mr. RUNYAN. And with that, I would like to call on the Ranking Member for any opening statement he would have. Mr. McNerney.
[The prepared statement of Chairman Runyan appears in the Appendix.]
Mr. MCNERNEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank you for holding today's hearing, "An Update on Reform and Progress at Arlington National Cemetery." This hearing follows up on a June 23, 2011, Subcommittee hearing on this issue where numerous concerns were raised and discussed—particularly in regards to an archaic, paper-based recordkeeping system, inappropriate contracting and management, and mistaken identities of grave sites at Arlington National Cemetery.
I think we all agree that Arlington National Cemetery is an unparalleled national treasure that serves a very unique mission. As the preferred burial site for many of America's veterans, dignitaries including U.S. Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, and many of those who died on the attack of September 11, 2001, these hallowed grounds should be maintained and operated at the highest levels of excellence.
Today we will be examining the recently issued report from the Army Inspector General, which includes 31 observations and 53 recommendations. On September 18, 2011, the Secretary of the Army, as directed by Public Law 111-339, a law which outlines the required reporting regarding Arlington National Cemetery, issued his assessment to Congress of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General's recommendations and observations. I am glad that we will be able to evaluate the findings in the Secretary's report.
More importantly, I am pleased that both reports indicate that the mismanagement and dysfunction found during the Army's original investigation in the summer of 2010 no longer exist.
However, I know that problems of this magnitude that plagued Arlington in the past will not just disappear overnight. As such, I look forward to hearing more from our witnesses today about the work that remains to ensure the proper operations, management, and maintenance of this revered site. I also want to delve further into the current reforms underway to make sure that we stay on the right track of increased efficiency and efficacy.
I would like to thank our witnesses for reappearing before us today. I commend the demonstrable dedication that Ms. Kathryn Condon, the Executive Director of the Army National Cemeteries Program, along with Mr. Pat Hallinan, the Superintendent formerly with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA's) National Cemetery Administration (NCA) have shown.
Thank you both for your hard work and leadership thus far. As you reorganize, retrain, and retool, I hope that you will continue in this vein. Our veterans and their loved ones deserve no less.
I yield back.
[The prepared statement of Congressman McNerney appears in the Appendix.]
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you, Mr. McNerney. And with that, I would like to welcome our first witness, Major General McCoy, the Army Inspector General. General McCoy, your complete written statement will be entered into the hearing record, and with that, I now recognize you for 5 minutes for your statement.
General MCCOY. Thank you, Chairman, Ranking Member McNerney and distinguished Members of the Committee. Thank you for the invitation and the opportunity to speak to you today about Arlington National Cemetery.
As the Deputy Army IG since October of 2008, and also the acting Inspector General since August of 2010, I have been intimately involved in all efforts concerning Arlington almost continuously since July of 2009. After reviewing our 2010 inspection report and our investigation, the Secretary of the Army set the course for correcting Cemetery processes and procedures by issuing his Army Directive 2010-04. Our 2011 inspection evaluated progress in making corrections to the inspection findings as well as implementation of that Army directive. The remainder of my opening statement will address some of the findings we found.
Up front, I believe our report and what you will hear today will show that the changes that have taken place in the last year is a good-news story. I am proud to report that the deficiencies have been substantially corrected this year and that the mismanagement reported to you last year no longer exists.
Since the Secretary signed his directive, the Executive Director has led her staff and other Army stakeholders to make significant improvements at Arlington while still accomplishing the Cemetery's daily mission. Of note, compared to last year's inspection where we found numerous deficiencies, this year there were no deficiencies noted. We made 31 observations and noted two other matters on the progress that has been made and the work still to be done. This alone underscores the tremendous progress ANC and the Army have made in correcting the problems at Arlington.
First, I want to address the culture. The insularity which contributed so significantly to the mismanagement last year no longer exists at Arlington. Instead, the Executive Director has established an environment of collaboration, cooperation, and coordination which has transformed the Cemetery's organizational climate. Surveys and sensing sessions we administered at Arlington over the last year reflect steadily improving morale and organizational effectiveness. These improvements can be directly attributed to the strong and inclusive leadership of both the Executive Director and Superintendent.
With regard to automated systems and processes, ANC now possesses a fully functional information technology architecture supported by the Army's Information Technology Agency (ITA). ANC has partnered with ITA to employ a consolidated customer service center in answering customer calls, which have significantly improved customer service and enabled a tiered response capability, using a Remedy tracking system which allows collaborative resolution by call center personnel and Cemetery representatives. ANC and the Veterans Administration are now partnering to integrate the Cemetery's interment scheduling services system and the VA burial operations support system.
Additionally, ANC has partnered with other Army stakeholders to create a digital research tool for digital burial records, Cemetery maps, and headstone photographs, which is enabling the Executive Director's Grave Site Accountability Task Force.
Last, with regard to information assurance, today I can report to you that Arlington National Cemetery's information assurance is among the best in the Army.
In contracting, during the 2010 IG inspection, we found that the Cemetery's procurement and contracting actions were not compliant with Army, Defense, or Federal acquisition regulations. This summer we reviewed over 20 contracts covering services, engineering, and construction. We found that these contracts are now properly aligned based on scope of work and the correct contracting agency, that these agencies are providing the oversight necessary to ensure that quality contracts are properly awarded, and that ANC is effectively monitoring those contracts.
In the budget arena, ANC now uses Army standard financial management processes and works closely with the administrative assistant to improve the development, execution, and oversight of the program and budget. Further, the Executive Director's decision to transition Arlington early to the General Fund Enterprise Business System now provides full visibility on the Cemetery's expenditures and has been critical to reversing perceived budget shortfalls.
Our key recommendations in this year's report were presented to the Secretary, and, as you have stated, there were 53 recommendations which we believe will further enhance the progress already made.
In the areas of policy documentation, we recommended the Executive Director continue to revise the regulations and pamphlets to improve administration, operations, and maintenance of the Army's 30 cemeteries and incorporate in it the revision's long-term, robust, and continuous oversight processes and mechanisms.
We also recommended a multiservice policy for Arlington in order to standardize policies and improve efficiencies and response.
To ensure long-term command and control and oversight, we recommended the Department of the Army G3 provide Secretary McHugh future options on how best to integrate the Army National Cemetery command and control organizational alignment and support relationships into established Army practices.
Regarding wait times, during our inspection we found that interments and inurnments are increasing each year and that wait times at Arlington continue to increase. We recommended that the Secretary request his soon-to-be-formed Army National Cemeteries Commission to examine the cause and effect of that and make recommendations.
In conclusion, I believe the progress made at Arlington since last June shows a significant turnaround in performance, and demonstrates the Army's stalwart commitment to ensuring all actions at this national shrine are executed to exacting standards.
There is still more work to do. As the Army's Inspector General, I know that restoring Arlington remains a high priority for both the Secretary and the Chief of Staff of the Army. Further, as the son of a mother and father who are buried at Arlington National Cemetery, I have a personal interest in ensuring that the Cemetery is properly managed.
I can tell you without hesitation, I have great confidence that the Army is now and will continue to effectively perform its sacred responsibilities to its veterans and their families at Arlington National Cemetery.
Thank you, once again, for the invitation and the opportunity to testify today on this most important subject.
[The prepared statement of General McCoy appears in the Appendix.]
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you very much, General.
With that, we will start a round of questions, starting with myself, and alternating on either side of the aisle.
First question as a preface, you kind of touched on it in your statement, just talking about recommendations that the IG has set out, and basically alluded to that the focus of this administration, is probably too short term, and there is a worry about how you are going to be able to sustain improvement as people like Ms. Condon and Pat move on.
Is that a natural part of changing personnel within any Administration, or is it something that going forward you are really fearful that they are not prepared in case something did happen where experienced managers were no longer around to continue improvements?
General MCCOY. Congressman, I think we have to recognize that we had a significant problem at Arlington National Cemetery, and what Secretary McHugh did was, he applied focused effort to fix it. It was contrary to what we had in our initial report last year, but he believed, with the advice of his staff, that this was a better approach, to put an Executive Director in charge, focus solely on making corrections happen as quickly as possible. And from our perspective, that was a short-term fix.
He believes that he has to figure out a way to sustain this effort. Right now, he has a quality workforce out there, quality leadership out there, performing both the corrections and the day-to-day mission and the long-term vision. But in the long term, he has to figure out how to apply our command and control in an appropriate way out there, and I think he is looking forward to the recommendations both from Ms. Condon and also from the G3 on that.
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you. And you touched a little bit on the increased use of technology. What role do you see the use of technology in moving forward, specifically in the area of policy documentation?
General MCCOY. Well, for example, a year ago I could not have told you what was happening at Arlington National Cemetery on any given day. This morning, while we are sitting here, I can tell you that they are burying 10 veterans or family members and that they plan to do 34 burials today, and that is on their Web site, and it is in the public domain. So they are taking the 21st Century look at the Cemetery right now.
They have applied the resources, I think, that they have been given, effectively. They have the Information Technology Agency helping them. They are working with a call center to make sure that they are capturing all of the calls that come in. They weren't even doing that last year, and we didn't know how bad it was until we started being able to capture some of the calls.
And then on top of that, I think Ms. Condon has been given the mission of formulating operations, administration, and maintenance policy for all of our 30-some cemeteries. So she will be able to apply that through the technology processes as she is putting them in place now.
Mr. RUNYAN. And also in the report, there was a finding that communications between the interment branch and the Honor Guards needed refinement. Can you kind of clarify that a little bit?
General MCCOY. Well, I think what we found was with five services, each with their own Honor Guard, their ceremonial units, and their own bands, each with conflicting additional service-related priorities and no common policy, that sometimes it was hard to schedule services in a timely way, and we have seen that in some of the services. We saw an increase in time. Army and the Marine Corps I think were the best; and then the other two, they had an extended time.
What Ms. Condon did about it initially, I mean she started the open coordination with each of the services' capabilities. And then beyond that, what she did is she is set up an operations center that she expects to have service representation, and that will help significantly, we believe.
But in the long term we think, and we have recommended to the Secretary, that a multiservice policy be established for common standards and ceremonial practices there so that we can ensure we are more responsive to the needs of the relatives.
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you. That is all I have. Mr. McNerney.
Mr. MCNERNEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Major General McCoy, thank you for appearing today.
What role did the IG play in exposing some of the problems that we are hearing about or we heard about last year, and why did the IG not find these problems in prior years? They must have been building up over a long period of time.
General MCCOY. That is a long story, Congressman, but I will try to give you the CliffNotes version. There was a general order that was published in the early nineties, shortly after the previous administration got in place, and that general order basically vested most authority for the administration of the Cemetery into the Superintendent. The IG of the Military District of Washington (MDW) had a relationship initially with the Cemetery, but that was a collaborative relationship between the Military District of Washington commander and the Superintendent. Over time, that eroded.
We perform systemic inspections at the Department of the Army Inspector General Agency based on the Secretary of the Army's guidance, and our inspections had been focused outward, looking at systems issues across the Army, given the deployed environment we are in today. So things like supply, readiness, leader development, those kinds of things.
When we got word in 2009 that there were some issues that we were beginning to see at Arlington National Cemetery, we recommended to the Secretary that we perform an inspection there to look at policies and oversight and management of the Cemetery, and as we started that inspection, we identified some mismanagement that required investigation. So our Inspector General investigators began to look at those, and then we saw the contracting and IT, the information technology, was in bad shape. So we added those additional items to the inspection. That culminated in 2010 with a report, as you recall.
What we have done since then is we have ensured that, and frankly, Public Law 111-339 helps, but it was already anticipated that we were going to perform an oversight inspection for the following years; and at the same time, we are looking at other agencies that are helping with the oversight. And Ms. Condon is looking internally at her assessment capabilities as well. So I think it is going to be a combined effort, ensuring that oversight remains strong in this Cemetery over the years.
Mr. MCNERNEY. So it sounds to me like that before 2009, the DoD had some significant commitments and the Arlington management was a little bit below the radar, and as problems arose, it came into focus, and now you have put into place procedures that will prevent this from happening again; is that correct?
General MCCOY. That is a fair statement.
Mr. MCNERNEY. So I guess what I want to find out and be comforted with is knowing that Arlington won't be flying below the radar in the future—that there will be enough attention because of the management structure that has been put in place and that we won't be seeing that problem again?
General MCCOY. I think you should be comfortable with that at this point.
Mr. MCNERNEY. Well, thank you. I am glad to hear that. One of the things that is the most difficult to hear about is the sort of treatment that families have gotten when they want to inter or bury one of their loved ones: an 80 percent dissatisfaction rate with the telephone hotline and and long wait times.
Has someone from your office tried to call into the system lately to find out if that telephone response is what it should be?
General MCCOY. Well, as you know, there was no real system before 2010. I mean, what they had is a couple of Cemetery representatives that were answering the phones, and if they didn't get to the phone, the person got dropped. So immediately after Ms. Condon took charge out there, she established a call center, initially in the basement, and now she is working with the Information Technology Agency with a call center that answers all of the calls that come in and distributes the calls based on whether it is about a tourism issue or a burial issue, and the burial issues are referred to her scheduling branch.
What we found also is that that captures the discrepancies or the potential discrepancies that family members may have concerns about, and so they call. And at the time the inspection ended, there was about 1,300 calls over the last year inquiring about the potential discrepancies. Now, the vast majority of those, there were no discrepancies and they were able to be corrected in reviewing of the paperwork. But what we found, as we checked both the call center and the Cemetery representatives is that they approached each one very deliberately and professionally and compassionately in order to support the needs of the family member. In some cases, they actually did check the body physically to ensure that it was the proper grave site, the proper casket, the proper place, and in all—in most of those cases, the family members were satisfied with what they had done.
Mr. MCNERNEY. Okay. Thank you, Major General. I am going to yield back.
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you. Mr. Lamborn.
Mr. LAMBORN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for having this hearing. And General, thank you for your service to our country, and thank you for addressing these important issues.
When these problems came to the surface last year, many Americans were very concerned, and understandably so. In addressing the concerns, I don't want to overlook the many good things that were done out at Arlington National Cemetery both in the past and in the present and leading up till now. Many people were treated with the utmost dignity and respect as they were put into their final resting place. So thank you for the good things that were also done during this whole time.
But in addressing the issues that were of concern to everybody, can this Committee do anything to better support you and Ms. Condon and her team out at Arlington National Cemetery as we go forward?
General MCCOY. I would offer to you, if you haven't been there, take yourself and as many of your staff members and Committee Members with you to go out and visit the Cemetery. I mean, it is a hallowed site. My wife and I walk through it every weekend. I know that Ms. Condon walks through it multiple times a day, but it will bring you back to reality.
Speaking with Ms. Condon and her staff and watching Mr. Hallinan and what he does to train and develop the junior leaders that are out there and getting an update from them—not from the Inspector General or the Director—about what they feel to be changed out there, I think would be very useful to you. So that from that perspective, I commend a visit out to the Cemetery.
Mr. LAMBORN. Okay. Thank you for that, and do know that we stand by to lend any assistance that should be necessary.
And secondly, with the increase in burial services, are you able to ensure that each family's wishes are met during the service?
General MCCOY. I will let Ms. Condon answer part of that, but frankly, the belief I have is that now that they have this call center in place and they are actually able to capture the calls and the demand, the good side of that is they are meeting the requirements of the family members. The bad news to that is they are seeing an increase in their demand because they now know how many people actually want to be buried there, because that is problematic because it means that they are now capturing that demand. They get about 43 calls a day. They are able to bury about 27 to 30. Today, they plan for 34. So their demand exceeds their capacity.
Mr. LAMBORN. Okay. And the last question is, specifically, there was an issue that came out at the last hearing—and I know that Ms. Condon may also want to address this—but there were 69 boxes that were found of records in a storage facility. And have those records been compiled and examined and disposed of in the proper way?
General MCCOY. Congressman, that was not part of the IG's finding and I will let Ms. Condon address that. I do know that has been turned over to Criminal Investigation Division for review.
[The DoD, on behalf of Ms. Condon, subsequently responded with the following information:]
On 9 June 2011, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) was contacted by the Property Manager, Fort Knox Self Storage, Falls Church, VA, who discovered 69 boxes with what appeared to be ANC documents in a storage unit that was currently up for auction due to the tenant failing to pay the rent. After an initial investigation by U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, the documents were returned to ANC and ANC personnel conducted a thorough review of all documents recovered and determined them to be printed copies of previously scanned records of interment and grave cards currently maintained in the ANC data archives. ANC reported the potential loss of Personal Identifiable Information, as required by Department of the Army policy. The Army determined that the tenant of the storage unit who failed to pay rent was an information technology contractor and the contractor was the only one who had access to the interment records stored there. This contractor had access to the interment records for the purpose of database development under an ANC contract. All current scanning contracts include requirements for records security and disposal of residual information to protect personal identifiable information in accordance with Army regulations.
Mr. LAMBORN. Okay. I appreciate your answers, General, and Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you, Mr. Lamborn. Mr. Walz.
Mr. WALZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Ranking Member. General McCoy, thank you and the IG for the fine work you do. I think every bit of praise to Ms. Condon and Superintendent Hallinan are well deserved. I also wish more of our colleagues could maybe see this.
I would like to think one of our primary responsibilities of oversight as Members of Congress, the system worked. The IG was able to report things that came to Congress, took an active role. The Chairman and the Ranking Member addressed the issues for the right ways, both from the Federal side of things and from the private contractors, and now we have a system that is doing what it is supposed to do for those families. So that is a good thing, and I think the public doesn't get enough good news like that.
I just had just a couple things. How often will you review Arlington now from an IG perspective? Do you go back to a normal set schedule, General, or will there be a little difference in how you go about making sure this level of service is maintained?
General MCCOY. Ms. Condon may want to tell you, too much. But I will tell you this. Last year, we were out there almost continuously. After the inspection and investigation started in 2009, we finished that in 2010. We did an interim review in—we had already planned an interim review in 2010 in the December-January timeframe, December and January 2011, and then Public Law 111-339 came out that required inspections over the next 3 years. So we did an interim review in December. We had already planned a summer 2011 inspection, a reinspection. Now we are going to do one again next summer, and next summer we will work with Ms. Condon to ensure that we are not only looking at what remains to be done, but that she is sustaining the work that is required. And then we are required by that law to do one in 2013.
But our intent is to have, as Secretary McHugh has discovered, a look at all of these direct report units that report to the Army staff, that we may not have been as good at looking at in the past to make sure we have a sustained program for looking at each of those over the years. So that is part of our program.
Mr. WALZ. Great. This was addressed a little bit by the Ranking Member, and I am interested in this because I know what the systems analysis—the forensic lookback and the gap analysis that you did to find out what we could do better. Those systems, are they durable enough to withstand when Ms. Condon and Mr. Hallinan move to something bigger and better—not entirely—when they move, can the system sustain itself without that direct leadership?
General MCCOY. I think the answer to that is yes. What I would say is that what Mr. Hallinan and Ms. Condon are doing is they are establishing core competencies out there and core capabilities, and then they are defining those and they are defining those in writing over time. So there will be a standard operating procedure (SOP), an Army pamphlet, and an Army regulation that describe precisely how Arlington National Cemetery and the other Army cemeteries should operate, and that will be a useful document.
Now, it comes down to leadership. The thing that changed Arlington is the climate, the environment, and the inclusive leadership that has been established out there. So you have to have the right leaders in place.
Mr. WALZ. And my final question—you may be the wrong person to, but I am going to articulate it because it has to every time we have this discussion—should we be looking at folding Arlington into the VA system so that we have that established overall check, and roll them together with the Old Guard providing the interments and bringing it under one?
I know this gets brought up every time. In this time of budgets and these types of issues where you had an entity outside an established protocol of the VA, is that something that the IG look at from a cost-benefit analysis or systems to roll them into VA?
General MCCOY. I know a lot of people are looking at that. I know GAO will come back to you in December and provide you a recommendation in accordance with the public law. As a soldier, I would tell you—and a veteran—I would say I would like to see Arlington stay with the Army. We bring soldiers in. We take care of them their entire career, and they are ours to retire properly.
As an IG, I would tell you, I think you are going to have increased bureaucratic ineffectiveness if you bring in the Veterans Administration and try to work it with Arlington and the Army using the Old Guard. So I do think there will be some increased ineffectiveness if you do that.
Mr. WALZ. I appreciate that candid response. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you, Mr. Walz. Mr. Stutzman.
Mr. STUTZMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Major General McCoy, for being here. And we appreciate your service, first of all, and also your work out at Arlington Cemetery. I know for all of us as Americans and I can, speaking for myself, remember as a young boy walking through for the first time at Arlington and just the impression it left on me. I know we are all very, very proud of Arlington National Cemetery, and we want to be supportive, and we want it to be something we can all be proud of.
My question, to kind of follow up on Mr. Walz's last question regarding VA and the Army operating the Cemetery, the original VA IG inspection recommended that Arlington National Cemetery negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of VA to include Arlington National Cemetery in their National Cemeteries Administration's operations, assessment, and inspection program.
While multiple reviews and inspections have occurred, why has Arlington ignored this recommendation, given the value of outside inspectors who are recognized as experts in this field, in providing an independent assessment of operations and management?
General MCCOY. Well, Congressman, I think that is fair. The Secretary—well, that was our recommendation. The Secretary took us in a different direction when he assigned responsibility for the Cemetery to the Executive Director. One of the first things she did is hire away from the Veterans Administration the architect of their assessment program, Mr. Hallinan, and so he is now working for us, number one.
Number two, they have trained a number of their people. Even while we have all of these different assessments going on from the Army, they have sent a lot of their folks to the Veterans Administration training facility, in Jefferson Barracks in Missouri, to receive Veterans Administration cemetery training.
And even now, Mr. Hallinan is also preparing an assessment program, which we would call in the Army an organizational inspection program. He is preparing that assessment program for Arlington National Cemetery and is training his people with the Veterans Administration. They have not done an MOU, but they are working—they are partnering together.
Mr. STUTZMAN. Okay. And kind of a follow-up on another recommendation that the commission, when formed, should examine the causes and effects of increasing wait times and recommend changes to DoD, Army, and Army National Cemetery program processes and procedures to reduce wait times appropriately. Why is it appropriate for this Department's advisory—this Department of the Army's advisory body to make recommendations to a problem whose solution obviously rests on a joint Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and military service collaborative integrated effort?
General MCCOY. I think the short answer is yes. At the organizational level, Ms. Condon and Arlington Cemetery and internal to the Army, and even OSD, we can find answers to initial questions that are evolving out there at Arlington National Cemetery. But at the strategic level, as you think about the transparency that you would want us to have with you on this sacred ground, we thought that the advisory commission—the Secretary thought having an advisory commission that could provide him unbiased advice on how to best operate the Cemetery would be useful and transparent.
And so while some of these questions can be answered, such as wait time and things and throughput and all those kinds of things, at the end of the day, having an external body review the situation and provide us some options and some recommendations to the Secretary I think is useful.
Mr. STUTZMAN. Do you think that there will be any delay in a solution being found while the Army looks at it?
General MCCOY. I think we are going to have—I think I know Ms. Condon. She is going to figure it out herself initially and commence work, but it will be reinforced by what the commission provides back to her and maybe altered some by what the commission provides back.
Mr. STUTZMAN. Okay. Thank you again, for your service and appreciate what you do. I know we all want to see it be something we can continue to be proud of, and I know we will be with some work—working together. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you.
Major General McCoy, on behalf of the Subcommittee, I want to thank you for your testimony. Thank you for your service to this country. I look forward to working with you and continue working with you on these important matters as we get this right. So you are now excused and we will have panel 2 please come forward and have a seat at the table.
General MCCOY. Thank you, Mr. Congressman. With your permission, I am going to go ahead and leave. If you want me to stay—
Mr. RUNYAN. I apologize for having a vote across the street, but I know you are probably crunched for time.
General MCCOY. I am willing to stay if you want me to.
Mr. RUNYAN. You can leave. Thank you.
On the second panel of this hearing, we will be hearing from Ms. Condon, the Executive Director of National Cemeteries Program for the Department of the Army, who is accompanied by Patrick Hallinan, Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery. Ms. Condon, your complete written statement will be entered into the hearing record, and you are now recognized for your statement.
STATEMENT OF KATHRYN A. CONDON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CEMETERIES PROGRAM, OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; ACCOMPANIED BY PATRICK K. HALLINAN, SUPERINTENDENT, ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE ARMY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Ms. CONDON. Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you once again for providing the opportunity for Mr. Hallinan and I to discuss the progress at Arlington. As most of the Members of this Committee know from previous hearings and also from visits to the cemetery, over the last 15 months Mr. Hallinan and I and the entire workforce have worked diligently to right the wrongs of the past at Arlington National Cemetery. As you just heard from the Inspector General, significant progress has been made in all aspects of the Cemetery's performance, accountability, and modernization.
Mr. Hallinan and I now lead a dedicated group of individuals who are committed to honoring our fallen military heroes and their family members. As you know, at the start, we encountered a workforce where skills were misaligned with organizational needs. Training was inadequate to allow them to properly and effectively perform their assigned duties, and equipment was outdated or did not exist to perform the mission to standard. To that end, we focused our attention on reorganizing and training the workforce and addressing all of the discrepancies in the 2010 IG report.
We have put in place standards that previously were lacking or were inadequate. New equipment has been introduced, as well as training with industry on how to operate it safely and with proficiency. As you have seen just a year ago, Arlington was using an outdated method to schedule burial services. Yes, we were using a typewriter to record critical information about veterans' gravesites and interment details. Today, we leverage industry best practices in database management, and we have installed a state-of-the-art scheduling system that ensures visibility to all our stakeholders and ability to share information like never before.
Now, accountability is maintained using a six-step chain of custody process. We have stood up the Accountability Task Force, a joint military and civilian team focused to meet and exceed the requirements first directed by Secretary McHugh, and later by the Public Law 111-339.
But the most significant change to the Cemetery has been the effective use of technology, from our new Arlington Web site to our Geospatial Application Development Initiative, which will form a Google maps-like information system that enables the Cemetery to better manage the grounds, grave and niche assignments, and provide street direction and site locations for our guests, to the implementation of the Army's General Fund Enterprise Business System, which provides Web-enabled financial asset and accounting management. We did not have that before.
Mr. Chairman, we have worked diligently to earn and maintain the faith of our veterans and their loved ones. The demands have been significant, but Mr. Hallinan and I will both tell you that we still have some challenges that we need to work. But as outlined in the IG report, both reform and progress have been implemented at Arlington.
Conducting military burial services with dignity, honor, and precision has been part of the fabric of Arlington National Cemetery since the Army's first burial more than 150 years ago. Each day, the Army along with the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, and the Coast Guard, carry out this tradition, participating on an average of 27 funeral services each day.
To date this calendar year, we have conducted 5,358 burials, 3,216 ceremonies, and we have hosted over 4 million visitors and guests and reviewed over 1,300 family member concerns. I would like to say that no other cemetery in the United States has such a diverse mission or such a diverse role.
In summary, during the last 15 months, from information technology and manpower efforts to grave-site accountability and comprehensive inspections and audits, the Army has used virtually every asset in its inventory to improve management, operations and processes at Arlington.
Thank you for allowing Mr. Hallinan and I to answer some questions today and to highlight the improvements that we have made, and we look forward to answering your questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Condon appears in the Appendix.]
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you for your testimony. In the IG report, referring to developing your call center to address the self-assessment performance, it couldn't identify any other way that you would obtain any measurable metrics. Have you done anything to address their concern on that issue?
Ms. CONDON. Sir, yes, we have; but you know, Mr. Hallinan will also expound on this because I will get his comments as well.
The first thing we did at the Cemetery was we had to rebuild the workforce. We literally redid each and every position description. We had to train the workforce, put in standards and operating procedures, and so now we are implementing those standards and operating procedures. And from them, you know, we will work the metrics to make sure that the workforce is truly doing what they need to do on a day-to-day basis.
Is there anything you want to add on that, Mr. Hallinan?
Mr. HALLINAN. Mr. Chairman, I will just add in a very strategic sense that we use the term three Rs, and in fact, one of your colleagues mentioned it. It is to reorganize, retrain, and retool. That is exactly the process that has been employed. It is easily understand by the rank-and-file workforce. It is not an easy task to accomplish, especially in a short timeframe.
But specifically to your question, you know, when we stood up the call center, we actually captured the amount of calls coming in. Each family that called in was assigned a case number with Remedy. Each family will get a returned phone call. Calls are not being dropped. Phones are not being abandoned. So now we have a metrics. We have a systems approach. We have accountability. So we established a baseline, and how we could try to impact that system even further and improve that process which did not exist 14 months ago.
Mr. RUNYAN. Kind of leading into that you mentioned in your statement your 1,300 inquiries. Have they all been addressed, and what are the major issues with the ones that are outstanding?
Ms. CONDON. Sir, as reported in the IG report, you know, we have addressed most of those 1,300, and I think the number in the report was there were 18 that we were still working on. I am here to report that there are only 13 left that we are still working on. Nine of those 13, we are working with the families to—you know, with their concerns with the Cemetery, and 4 of those 13 we are turning over to our Accountability Task Force.
The reason why we are turning them over to our Accountability Task Force, it is—to give you one example. An individual came in and said he thinks his father is buried at Arlington. Well, when we checked our records and we checked the national grave site locator record, you know, we do not find his father; but as we do the Accountability Task Force looking at each and every record at the Cemetery perhaps we will be able to discover something. That is just one of the examples, but we are working on that, very limited number left, and every other inquiry that we receive from a family member to date.
Mr. RUNYAN. And I know we kind of touched on this a little bit when you were in front of the Oversight Committee on Armed Services a couple of weeks ago; but the switch of the Army Corps' oversight and their engineering from the Baltimore District to the Norfolk District, why again did that happen?
Ms. CONDON. Sir, as you know, when Mr. Hallinan and I received the IG report in 2010, the status quo on any operation at Arlington was not acceptable. That was the reason why we relooked each and every requirement at the Cemetery from all of our service contracts to include all of those construction projects that we had. The reason why: We wanted a fresh look, and transferring to the Norfolk District from Baltimore allowed us to have that fresh look and not to be wedded on everything that happened in the past, but only to look forward.
Mr. RUNYAN. And in dealing with burial service today, interment delays—and again, I know with your call center you realized how much need there actually is: Are you operating at optimal capacity right there, or is there room to speed this up and help this along? Because I know it came up in other Subcommittees that there are a lot of people frustrated because it actually costs the families money to sit around and wait for the burial.
Ms. CONDON. Sir, I will also let Mr. Hallinan, you know, expound on the fact as well, but one of the things that we have done to address that issue is we now have Saturday services. Our Saturday services are for family members and for those who do not require honors or want honors. So that has allowed us to work on some of the backlog for placement only in the Cemetery. One of the things that we do track on a daily basis is, you know, scheduling those services. And we have found that families are willing to wait just for the honor to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Mr. Hallinan.
Mr. HALLINAN. Mr. Chairman, as Ms. Condon mentioned, we are interring 6 days a week. We are the only national cemetery in the United States that operates 6 days a week. That was a good-faith effort on our part to improve service to the families and possibly reduce any cost they may incur. But with the technology that is in place now, I believe there is still opportunity for improvement, I think with coordination with the military services, with the support of our commanding general of MDW, we are looking for further opportunities during the week that we can increase services. But I do want to mention, we have increased expectations.
So I can see the more efficient we become, the need for interments may rise. So we have seen it with the phone calls. I believe that is what is happening with the interments. Even though we are interring 6 days a week, more people want to be interred at Arlington National Cemetery, which I take as a sign of confidence and trust of the American people that interments are up.
One cautionary note. In our efforts to be efficient, the Cemetery is operating in a small sector, and as you have been out there yourself, Mr. Chairman, most of our activities are located in a small quadrant. We have to be real careful in our efforts to improve service that we don't impact the services of those that are already scheduled, so when each family has that service, there is not activity and another service going on nearby that in any way would impact that in a negative way.
We have increased—our goal right now is 30 interments. We are averaging 27. Today's is 34. We like to be consistent with 30 interments to better serve the American people. But we are also conscious that when we serve them, we don't impact them in a negative way. So it is a strategic issue right now for us and a logistics issue.
Mr. RUNYAN. And understood, too, and as our—specifically our Korean and Vietnam veterans age, there is going to be a higher demand there. So that is kind of where I wanted to get to; what is your capacity, and are you going to be able to handle that? But thanks for what you said.
[The DoD subsequently responded with the following information:]
An important point to consider is that all Korean and Vietnam veterans may not be eligible for in-ground interment at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). Current estimates show the cemetery will exhaust its availability for in-ground burial in approximately 2025 and above-ground inurnments in approximately FY 2016. ANC is moving forward with expanding above-ground burial capacity with the addition of Columbarium Court 9. This construction will add approximately 20,000 niches to the inventory, which will extend niche space burials to approximately FY 2024, given the current rate of inurnments. Additionally, the Master Planning effort is evaluating options for further expansion in the Millennium Project, the land adjacent to Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, which will extend in-ground burial to approximately FY 2035. Also, the Navy Annex will provide for additional above- and below-ground burial capacity. Every effort is being made to extend the life of active burials at ANC for future generations of eligible veterans and their loved ones.
Mr. RUNYAN. And with that, Mr. McNerney, you are now recognized.
Mr. MCNERNEY. Thank you. Well, first of all, I want to thank the witnesses for their hard work and congratulate you for how much you have accomplished in the last year. It is pretty clear from the testimony and from the evidence that you have come a long way, and I certainly appreciate that. Everyone on the Committee and every American who has a relative in the service appreciates that.
What would be the waiting time for a family that wanted that wanted to have their loved one interred there at ANC?
Ms. CONDON. Sir, it depends on the services that the family members want to have. Because if you want to use the chapel at Fort Myer, the caisson and a chaplain, you know, those factors, and what military service is providing the honors is, as Mr. Hallinan discussed before, that is part of the orchestration that we have to do on a daily basis. But you know, one of the goals that Mr. Hallinan and I both have, now that we have metrics, is to—you know, working with all the services to decrease the wait time for a family member to have their loved one buried at the Cemetery.
Mr. Hallinan, if you want to add.
Mr. HALLINAN. As Ms. Condon has stated, there are a lot of factors at work here. The question came up previously, are you meeting the family's wishes and the family's needs? And that drives this process. That causes part of the delay for an interment. If a family does want full military honors, they have earned it, they deserve it, they are willing to wait, that will impact the wait time. We are sensitive to it. We have the baseline. We have the number. I know how many days it has taken for the average family to be interred at Arlington to date. We want to reduce that timeframe, but at the same time meet the needs of the families. If they are willing to wait, if that family member, that loved one—
Mr. MCNERNEY. What is the longest a family would have to wait?
Mr. HALLINAN. I want to say about 74 days, Mr. Congressman. Right now, that is the current average with full military honors and use of the Old Post Chapel.
Mr. MCNERNEY. And you have quite a bit of flexibility in terms of what the family wants? Say, if they want a motorcycle escort, is that allowed? And they get a bugler, and those things? Those are always available if that is what the family wants; is that right?
Mr. HALLINAN. We work very hard to comply with families' wishes, at the same time, being mindful of the dignity and decorum of Arlington National Cemetery; but yes, we do.
Mr. MCNERNEY. Well, one of the things that has come up in questioning here is that we want to be assured that reforms that you put in place are going to outlive your tenure with the organization. Now, one of the ways to do that is to make sure that there are good regulations or good procedures that are documented.
Can you talk a little bit about what documents are available now and how well those might be followed by the current staff. And procedures are going to need to be updated. What are in place to make sure the procedures are updated as new technology becomes available?
Ms. CONDON. Sir, I will start with that one. First of all, I have been given the direction to update all of our Army regulations and policies, and also working with the Department of Defense, so that we do it across all services as well. Mr. Hallinan and I have focused on putting in the—and documenting the standard operating procedures. And one of the things that I think we are the most proud of is we are truly digitizing the Cemetery. Our long-range plan is to eliminate paper and to do everything, you know, with electronic means to include—that will allow us to update our regulations and our policies, et cetera, you know, just really at real-time. So that is one of the things that we have been focused on.
Mr. MCNERNEY. So your employees there are familiar with the procedures and the regulations requirements and they have some input if there is a little flaw? I want to make sure that those procedures are a living force that gives guidance to your employees.
Ms. CONDON. Sir, you know, our employees are the ones who are assisting us as we write our standard operating procedures, and I will let Mr. Hallinan expound on this because it falls on the operational side. But just to give an example, our Columbarium worker literally sat down on her time and wrote down the procedures for what she does, you know, at the Columbarium Courts at Arlington. So there is involvement in not only the staff, but in the expertise that Mr. Hallinan has brought to the Cemetery.
So it is a living document because, as you know, as technology improves, as equipment improves, we all have to make sure that we update all of our policies as well.
Mr. HALLINAN. Mr. Congressman, specifically to your question about succession planning and what is Arlington National Cemetery going to be when our tenure is over, Ms. Condon and I focused on that. There is a succession plan in place. Position descriptions have been written. There are career-ladder positions in the ISB which is the interment branch. There are career-ladder positions in place now that did not exist 15 months ago for field operations. The employees, the rank and file, the union, are all involved in the many changes that are taking place. We are communicating from bottom up and from the top down with the workforce.
But in order to sustain the improvements and to ensure they last, you need documented policies. You need standard operating procedures. We have written standards and measures that are in place. We have career development for the employees. We have internal training, external training. We have partnered with the VA. There is a formal signed agreement between the Secretary of the VA and the Secretary of the Army.
The end of this month, sir, there will be four Arlington National Cemetery employees who will be trained on organizational assessment and improvement. We have the in-house expertise for that at Arlington presently. We are going to continue to leverage and develop that capacity. So these are good times. These are positive reinforcements for the employees. Our employees have individual development plans.
And specifically to your question about input, when we create the SOPs, we do it as a team. And those standard operating procedures, while they guide the organization and they can train the next generation coming in, they are not written in granite. Those SOPs are made to be changed by the people who actually do the work. So if there is a change in technology, we can capitalize on IT or a new piece of equipment or a different chemical that is applied at the Cemetery. We are going to look at those opportunities. We are going to look at best practices within the VA, and more importantly, we are going to look at best practices across the industry.
So I am very positive going forward. I am very pleased with the efforts of the workforce to date.
Mr. MCNERNEY. Mr. Chairman, I have one more question if you will allow it?
Mr. RUNYAN. Go ahead, yes.
Mr. MCNERNEY. I am just going to follow up on an earlier answer that you have a 74-day average waiting period. What is your goal in terms of reducing that, and when do you think you might meet that goal?
Mr. HALLINAN. I would like to set bench goals, short-term goals, and slowly decrease that number. So we are at 74 now. I would like to look at 65, 60, 56, slowly whittle that number down, at the same time as we apply our resources and expertise to reduce that number, being mindful of the type of service we are providing the families, as I stated earlier. If we average—if we move up to 35 interments a day, but I have four or five families that felt their service wasn't proper or they were impacted in some negative way, that is not a goal. That is something we want to guard against. So we are acutely aware of the service we are providing, how important it is.
We only get one chance to do this. We only get one chance to do this right. If that service is wrong, a family member will always remember that. If that service is done well and the honors that they have earned are rendered properly and professionally, the family will always remember that, also. So it is a sensitive area.
So I want—we don't want to appear that we are being too systematic or too bureaucratic in our approach, but we do want to reduce the wait time.
Mr. MCNERNEY. Thank you. Thank you for your indulgence, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you, Mr. McNerney. Mr. Walz.
Mr. WALZ. Thank you again, Mr. Chairman. As you heard, and I think we can't say it enough, thanks to both of you. I know you are busy folks, but if we can find a reason to bring you up here, I always feel better when you are here. It is like we are moving in the proper direction, and it is obvious in your tone and in the outcomes that you have that you understand how important this is and that you care deeply on each and every one of these veterans. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.
I am going to ask both of you, again—it may have been asked. I am sorry, I had to step out for a minute. Are the systems resilient enough to—and I know you are both very humble servants, but in all honesty, when others come in, can they step right in, and, as you said, make this work and adapt the SOP to those situations and still get the quality of care?
Ms. CONDON. Congressman, absolutely. The bottom line is, Mr. Hallinan and I—he has already talked previously about we have a succession plan for each and every employee in every position we have, to include our own. The bottom line is we have focused on the long-range vision on where we want to take Arlington to the future, from not only expansion but for the time that—you know, reducing the time it takes to be, you know, buried at the Cemetery. So my goal and Mr. Hallinan's goal is to make sure that, you know, who should follow us, whenever that is, is that they—that the ball is not dropped and that they just continue the same efforts that we are doing today.
Mr. WALZ. Super. And maybe you can help me with this in trying to understand, as all of us, obviously we are looking for efficiencies, we are looking for savings, but we also understand that services, as you said, must be done right. They must be done effectively. How many full-time employees does Arlington have now?
Ms. CONDON. Sir, when we did our manpower study, we were to bring our workforce up to 157 civilians. That is not counting our contracts. Right now, we are very close to that number. I think the exact number, Pat, is 100—in the 140s. It has been a priority for both Mr. Hallinan and I to make sure that we bring the right number of people so that we can make sure that each and every family member who has a loved one interred at Arlington, that we have the right amount of workforce to do that correctly.
Mr. WALZ. When you budget, Ms. Condon, for this and you go to the Army and let them know how much it is going to need for operation, do you feel confident that in this environment, and as we are trying to be as efficient as possible, though, that you are in an environment, if the need arises, that you can ask for the necessary funding to do the job? And our goal is no more, no less, but the job must be done. This is not one that can be pushed back. Do you feel confident you can do that?
Ms. CONDON. Sir, I definitely feel confident, because the reason we were able to accomplish so much in the last 15 months is because we truly leveraged the entire Army and the capabilities the Army provided from, you know, our ITA organization for all of our information technology, to actually the GIS (geographic information system) mapping that we are currently doing in the Cemetery. We just leveraged an all-ready Army effort. I do not feel that—and I am not shy to go forward and say what we truly require to run Arlington National Cemetery and feel that I have the support of not only Army but DoD.
Mr. WALZ. I am glad to hear that. The reason I asked you is we had the Army breakfast this morning, and General Dinaro and Secretary McHugh were there, and I think we all know if we end up in sequestration, $1.1 trillion is going to come out of defense budget and the Army.
My question is, when that happens, how is Arlington prioritized in this, again, to make sure you have the resources to do what you need to do? Is that conversation, if you can—it is very generalized, I understand that. Is that conversation happening?
Ms. CONDON. Sir, as a matter of fact, I discussed this topic with the Chief of Staff on his first day as the new Army Chief of Staff, and Arlington truly is a priority and with just 100 employees and the technology—I don't want to say this, but I am really not that large a dollar amount to actually run the Cemetery effectively and efficiently.
Mr. WALZ. That is great to hear. Again, I can't thank both of you enough on behalf of the American people. This is a great success story and done for all the right reasons, and not enough good things can be said about you and your people who are out there now. It is great turnaround. So I yield back.
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you, Mr. Walz.
I actually have a few more questions. If you guys do, you can feel free to stick around. But a few weeks ago, there was a dedication ceremony for a new Columbarium on the books, and because of a protest filed over a contract award, it was canceled. And this Subcommittee staff actually contacted your Legislative Affairs Office, and you also, and did not receive a response on that matter. And would just like any information on the contract protest in question and your reason for delay.
Ms. CONDON. Congressman Runyan, as you know, the protest is under—is a procurement action, and I don't have any further details on that protest. And that is what I said to the staff at the time, was that once it was under protest, it is in the procurement channels and I do not have the details. And I would have to take that question for the record and get back to you.
[The DoD subsequently provided the following information:]
On September 12, 2011, Grunley Construction Company filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) against the award of Solicitation No. W912DR-11-R-0035 (Contract No. W912DR-11-C-0031) to Forrester Construction Company for Construction of Columbarium Court 9 at the Arlington National Cemetery. The Grunley Construction Company has protested not receiving award of the subject contract and the Government’s evaluation of their technical proposal as being too low. Specific source selection information related to this protest is currently under a GAO protective order. In accordance with the Competition in Contracting Act, performance of the contract has been stayed until resolution of the protest. We expect GAO's final decision on this protest by December 21, 2011, and will take appropriate action in accordance with that decision.
Mr. RUNYAN. Thank you. Mr. McNerney, you have any further questions? No, you don't? Mr. Walz?
I would like to thank you both for coming and for your testimony. I commend you for the job you are doing. I say it time and time again. I think you get the raw end of the deal sometimes. You are heading in the right direction. You have vision and you have procedures and protocols that you are obviously putting in place that are really going to turn what happens at Arlington around, and I commend both of you for your dedication and all of your hard work. So thank you very much.
I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material. Hearing no objection, so ordered.
I thank all the Members for their attendance today, and this hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:59 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
Good morning and welcome. This oversight hearing of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs will now come to order.
I would first like to thank Ms. Condon, Major General McCoy, and Mr. Hallinan for lending their valuable time to be here this morning to discuss Arlington National Cemetery with the Subcommittee.
A couple of months ago Ms. Condon and Mr. Hallinan testified before this Subcommittee on the progress they have made after taking over the administration of Arlington following the deplorable revelations in last year’s Army IG Report.
We are here today to continue that discussion of the progress that has been made at Arlington National Cemetery and the work that continues to be done there.
There are many veterans’ cemeteries across this great land -- each one of these sites is hallowed ground. Every grave marker honors the cherished memory of our Nation’s heroes who have been laid to rest.
Yet Arlington National Cemetery has long been a national symbol of these sacred memorials, while remaining unique and special in the minds of America’s citizens.
As I mentioned a few months ago at our previous hearing on Arlington, it is clear that 1 year would not be long enough to correct the many problems at Arlington National Cemetery and fix every issue brought about by years of neglect and mismanagement. I know we all share a sense of urgency in continuing to address the issues at ANC and can agree that tremendous strides have been accomplished by the new team at Arlington.
Ms. Condon and Mr. Hallinan, as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Disability and Memorial Affairs, I want to personally commend your efforts in bringing about these much needed changes.
Today, my focus, and that of this hearing, is on the process moving forward with the strong foundation laid by this new administration at Arlington National Cemetery.
In particular, I should note this foundation includes the most recent Army Inspector General’s report which found substantial corrections from the past deficiencies identified in the initial report that brought many of these challenges to light.
In short, due to your diligence, hard work, and excellent management, the problems which plagued Arlington National Cemetery just one year ago have been addressed and the majority have been eliminated.
Moving forward, I hope to learn how this progress will be sustained; and your plans to strengthen the improvements already made.
In particular, based on the I.G. report’s key recommendations, I look forward in hearing your thoughts and plans for:
- the creation of a Multi-service policy for Arlington;
- the long term command, planning, and oversight of the Army National Cemeteries; and
- internment wait times and the cemetery lifespan in reaching its full capacity.
Again, I would like to thank all of you for being here today. And thank you for your commitment to this great cemetery for our true American heroes.
I would now call on the Ranking Member for his opening statement.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to thank you for holding today’s hearing on an Update on reform and Progress at Arlington National Cemetery.
This hearing follows up on a June 23, 2011 Subcommittee hearing on this issue where numerous concerns were raised and discussed, particularly in regards to archaic paper-based record keeping, inappropriate contracting and management, and mistaken identities of gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery.
I think we all agree that Arlington National Cemetery is an unparalleled national treasure that serves a very unique mission. As the preferred burial site for many of America’s veterans and dignitaries, including U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices, and many of those who died in the attack on September 11, 2001, these hallowed grounds should be maintained and operated at the highest level of excellence.
Today, we will be examining the recently issued report from the Army Inspector General which includes 31 observations and 53 recommendations. On September 18, 2011, the Secretary of the Army, as directed by P.L. 111-339, a law which outlines the required reports regarding Arlington National Cemetery, also issued his assessment to Congress of the DoD IG’s recommendations and observations.
I am glad that we will be able to evaluate the findings in the Secretary’s report as well. More importantly, I am pleased that both reports indicate that the mismanagement and dysfunction found during the Army’s original investigation in the summer of 2010 no longer exist. However, I know that problems of the magnitude plaguing Arlington in the past will not magically go away.
As such, I look forward to hearing more from our witnesses today about the work that remains to ensure the proper operations, management, and maintenance of this revered site. I also want to delve further into the current reforms underway to make sure that we stay on the right track of increased efficiency and efficacy.
I would like to thank our witnesses for reappearing before us today. I commend the dedication that Ms. Kathryn A. Condon, the Executive Director of the Army National Cemeteries Programs, has brought with her, along with Mr. Pat Hallinan, the Superintendant formerly with VA’s National Cemetery Administration.
Thank you both for your hard work and leadership thus far. As you re-organize, re-train and re-tool, I hope that you will continue in this vein—our veterans and their loved ones deserve no less.
I yield back.
Chairman Runyan, Ranking Member Davis, and distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you for the invitation and opportunity to speak to you today about Arlington National Cemetery. I became the Deputy Inspector General in October 2008 and have also been serving as Acting The Inspector General since 13 August 2010 when LTG Whitcomb retired. During my time as Deputy and now Acting Inspector General, I have been intimately involved in all efforts concerning Arlington National Cemetery almost continuously since July 2009.
DAIG’S SPECIAL INSPECTION OF ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
The Inspector General Agency’s involvement began in July 2009 when, in discussion with the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, it was determined that there may be some significant management issues at Arlington National Cemetery. The Inspector General recommended to and received then-Secretary Geren’s approval to conduct an inspection of Arlington National Cemetery. The inspection assessed policy and procedures for operation of the Cemetery; management, administration, and coordination processes and training of personnel at Arlington; and the effectiveness, coordination, and synergy of command and leadership structures relating to other commands, staff elements and agencies involved in the Cemetery’s operations.
In November 2010, upon identification of other issues at Arlington, The Inspector General obtained Secretary McHugh’s approval to add two more objectives to our inspection, one to assess information management systems at ANC and another to assess contracting procedures at ANC. The Inspector General also obtained Secretary McHugh’s approval to conduct an IG investigation into potential issues related to hostile work environment, inappropriate hiring practices, and improper interment and trans-interment of remains. Teams of Army IGs conducted both the investigation and the inspection simultaneously.
LTG Whitcomb signed the completed reports on 9 June 2010. The inspection report highlighted 76 deficiencies and made 101 recommendations for corrective action. Secretary McHugh approved the inspection report on 8 July 2010.
ARMY DIRECTIVE 2010-04
On 10 June 2010, after reviewing the IG reports, Secretary McHugh issued Army Directive 2010-04: “Enhancing the Operation and Oversight of Army National Cemeteries.” The directive established the Army National Cemeteries Program (ANCP) Executive Director position, reporting directly to the Secretary. In his directive, Secretary McHugh further tasked the Executive Director to immediately establish an accountability baseline for all gravesites and inurnment niches at the Cemetery. He further tasked agencies and organizations across the Army to accomplish numerous actions to support the improvement of Cemetery processes and procedures.
DAIG’s 2011 RE-INSPECTION OF ANCP AND ANC: PURPOSE AND OBJECTIVES
The 2010 DAIG report recommended, and the Secretary approved, that we conduct a 6-month interim review and a subsequent re-inspection of Arlington National Cemetery. We completed the interim review in January 2011 and began the re-inspection in May 2011. Once Public Law 111-339 was published, the Secretary decided that our 2011 follow-up inspection would form the basis of his report to your Committees. In contrast to our 2010 inspection of ANC, which focused on the five objectives cited above, the re-inspection this summer assessed how well Arlington National Cemetery had corrected the deficiencies from last year’s report and how well the Army had complied with the Secretary’s follow-on directive. It also assessed outreach, information and support that Arlington National Cemetery provided to family member inquiries regarding possible burial discrepancies.
DAIG’s 2011 RE-INSPECTION OF ANCP AND ANC: KEY FINDINGS
Since the Secretary signed Army Directive 2010-04, the Executive Director has led her staff and other Army stakeholders to make significant improvements at Arlington, while still accomplishing the Cemetery’s daily mission. Every day at Arlington, in addition to the Cemetery employees, ceremonial and band units from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard operate in the cemetery to bury an average of 27 veterans and host seven public ceremonies. Additionally each day an estimated 11,000 visitors tour the Cemetery and seven public ceremonies were hosted. This drives home the fact that neither corrective action nor future visioning are negotiable and both are critical at Arlington, as the Services and the Cemetery executes the mission, with dignity, compassion and professionalism every single day. Neither are negotiable.
By way of comparison, the 2010 inspection report listed 76 findings and made 101 recommendations. Sixty-one of those findings were “deficiencies”; defined as serious deviations from an Army standard warranting the attention of the Army’s senior leadership. During this follow-up inspection, there were no deficiencies noted; rather, we made 31 observations on the progress that has been made and the work still to be done. This alone underscores the tremendous progress ANCP and the Army have made in correcting the problems at Arlington.
Improvement of ANC’s Organizational Culture and Climate. We found that the new ANCP leadership and staff have made tremendous progress in addressing the Cemetery’s organizational culture and climate. Last year we found that the Cemetery’s previous leadership fostered an “insular” environment at the Cemetery; effectively disengaged from much of the institutional Army. This insularity prevented the sustainment of functional relationships with Army command and staff elements that could provide support, resources and oversight. This insularity contributed greatly to the mismanagement, impropriety, and ineffectiveness uncovered at the Cemetery. Upon the establishment of the Executive Director Position, the new Executive Director and her staff immediately sought to make connections, and to collaborate actively, with the Army commands, staff elements and agencies that Secretary McHugh had directed to provide support to ANCP through Army Directive 2010-04. In this way, the Executive Director eliminated any significant vestiges of insularity in the Cemetery’s culture and paved the way for improvement in all aspects of ANC’s administration, operations, and maintenance. It is important to note that, notwithstanding the recommendation in the 2010 report to delegate responsibility for Arlington to a single command in the Army, Secretary McHugh assumed personal responsibility for the Army’s failure and for ensuring the corrections. I believe a year later that this kind of intense management and leadership was necessary as a forcing function in order to make the kind of progress we recently witnessed during the re-inspection.
Equally important, the Executive Director and Superintendent are equally responsible for leading the effort to successfully transform the Cemetery’s organizational climate. We administered two Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute surveys to Cemetery employees—one in January 2011 and one in June 2011. Both surveys reflect improving morale and increasing organizational effectiveness in the year since the Executive Director and new Superintendent assumed leadership responsibility at Arlington National Cemetery. In the 5 months between the surveys, those who agreed that the overall health and morale at Arlington was better than it was a year ago almost doubled. The number of those who disagreed or neither agreed nor disagreed with that sentiment dropped sharply. Six of seven Equal Opportunity areas are now rated as organizational strengths with significant improvement in command behavior to minorities reported by employees. In organizational effectiveness areas, employee’s trust in the organization reflected large improvements between the January and June surveys, and employees rate five of six areas of organizational effectiveness as strengths. Sensing sessions conducted by inspectors confirm survey findings. These radical improvements can be directly attributed to the leadership style and approach of both the Executive Director and the Superintendent.
Improved Information Technology and Processes. This summer, inspectors observed that ANC now possesses a fully-functional information technology architecture, enabled by current software applications and hardware systems and supported by a comprehensive service agreement with the Army’s Information Technology Agency (ITA). Starting in December 2010, Arlington partnered with ITA to route all incoming calls to ITA’s Consolidated Customer Service Center (CCSC) at Fort Detrick, MD. This process significantly improved customer service and enabled a tiered response system which freed Cemetery personnel to focus on funeral scheduling while ensuring callers inquiring about tourism-related questions were assisted promptly and efficiently by CCSC employees. Additionally, the CCSC provided Arlington’s Interment Services Branch the full capabilities of its Remedy tracking system. For example, every call made to the CCSC is now captured in a digital file and assigned a Remedy case number in the CCSC’s database. This allows collaborative resolution by CCSC personnel and Cemetery Representatives from the Internment Services Branch. Cemetery leadership periodically reviews the CCSC data and applies measures of effectiveness to assess staff performance.
Other improvements to Arlington’s information technology architecture include the replacement of antiquated and vulnerable computer hardware and applications identified in the 2010 report with the latest the Army can provide. From now through Fiscal Year 2012, the Cemetery and the Veterans Administration are partnering to integrate Interment Service System (ISS) and the Burial Operations Support System; this enhancement will save significant staff hours within the Interment Service Branch. The Cemetery has partnered with the Army’s Chief Information Officer and Army Data Center-Fairfield to provide Arlington with a digital “Research Tool” for digitizing burial records and headstone photographs. This tool is enabling the Executive Director’s Gravesite Accountability Task Force to re-establish an accountability baseline of each gravesite and inurnment niche at Arlington and already assists Cemetery Representatives in generating digital records for new interments and inurnments. This digitization of all records should be complete in early 2012. Finally, by February 2012, this digitized database of burial records will automatically update a new digital Cemetery map using the Army’s most current geospatial mapping program; replacing the paper maps that contributed to the discrepancies that were the impetus for the initial media reports of mismanagement at Arlington. Finally, the Executive Director is establishing an operations center to ensure situation awareness of all current and future Cemeterial and ceremonial operations at Arlington and facilitate the liaison and sharing of real-time information with Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force headquarters in the National Capital Region that support the Cemetery every day.
Improvement in Compliance with Army Information Assurance Focus Areas.
During the DAIG's Information Assurance (IA) compliance inspection of Arlington in 2010, ANC did not meet the Army standard in any of the 12 of 14 IA functional areas inspected (two functional areas did not apply at that time). In those 12 functional
areas, 57 serious information assurance deficiencies were identified. The Cemetery's
information technology architecture was grossly outmoded and vulnerable; and the Cemetery's workforce was untrained in these critical areas and understaffed in qualified information assurance personnel. A follow-on Army compliance inspection of the Cemetery was conducted from 20-27 June 2011. Compared to last year's inspection, where none of the applicable functional areas met the standard, Arlington met Army standards in all applicable information assurance functional areas during the most recent inspection. ANC's improved information assurance readiness can be is attributed to a strong tenant-service provider relationship, leadership focus, and ANC's proactive staff. Today, I can report to you Arlington is one of the best organizations in the Army for compliance with information assurance requirements.
Improvement in Acquisition and Contracting. During our first inspection, we found the Cemetery’s procurement and contracting actions were not in compliance with Army, Defense Department, and Federal acquisition rules and regulations. Untrained and unqualified personnel on the Cemetery’s staff were developing requirements and committing funds to contracts without appropriate oversight. This summer, our team reviewed 17 contracts from the Mission Installation Contracting Command’s (MICC) Fort Meyer and Fort Belvoir offices and eight contracts from the Army Corps of Engineer’s Baltimore District. Most of the MICC contracts were recently completed service contracts which gave an indication of current performance. In our reviews, we focused on Arlington’s pre-award compliance, teaming between Arlington and the supporting contracting agencies, requirements packages, and the training of contracting officer representatives and their execution and oversight of contracts. Finally, we looked at their management controls and acquisition processes and procedures. Today, the Cemetery’s contracting actions are now properly aligned, based on scope of work, with either the MICC or the Corps of Engineers. Furthermore, both the Contracting Command and the Corps of Engineers are providing support teams to the Cemetery and properly providing the oversight necessary to ensure that quality contracts are produced and being monitored in execution. ANC support teams subject new acquisitions to rigorous requirements determination, pre-award compliance checks, and contract packet reviews for quality assurance. Active ANC contracts are now in accordance with applicable rules and regulations as a result of the support, oversight, and resources provided by the Army’s appropriate contracting commands and procurement support agencies to the Cemetery. This improvement is due in no small part to the emphasis the Executive Director places on proper contracting practices.
Budget Formulation and Execution. Arlington is funded separately by the Congress through a MilCon/Veteran Affairs Related Agencies funding line item. The funds the Cemetery receives are ‘no-year’ funds. The 2010 Inspection report found the budget and appropriation structure for Arlington was exacerbated by the lack of organizational command and control. This structure also limited the ability of the Secretary of the Army to shift resources to the Cemetery if needed. The Secretary’s 2010 directive directed the Executive Director to realign budget oversight and execution along more standard Army practices. The Executive Director and her team now work closely with the Administrative Assistant (OAA), the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management and Controls, and the General Counsel to improve oversight of Arlington’s budget formulation and execution. The Executive Director’s decision to transition Arlington to the General Fund Enterprise Business System, providing her and the Army full visibility on the Cemetery’s expenditures, has been critical to turning around perceived budget shortfalls. This transition enabled the Executive Director and her staff to reconcile unobligated funds from the last several years, something that had not been previously accomplished. As a result, during our inspection we found more than $15M in un-liquidated obligations generated in the context of faulty contracting actions had been recouped and will be applied to future ANC budgets.
The Army Has Effectively Executed and Complied with AD 2010-04. During this summer’s re-inspection, inspectors found that ANCP and Army commands, staff elements and agencies have complied with Army Directive 2010-04 and effectively executed the tasks Secretary McHugh assigned them to enhance the operations and oversight of the Army National Cemeteries Program. Furthermore, the Gravesite Accountability Task Force is currently on track to complete its task of establishing an accountability baseline for all gravesites and inurnment niches with in Army National Cemeteries. This baseline will inform the report being provided to the Congress no later than 22 December 2011 under the provisions of Public Law 111-339.
The Army Secretariat and Cemetery’s new leadership have initiated several other actions which will provide for longer term improvements. These include changes to the Army policy to document the jurisdictional realignment of the Army National Cemeteries program, the creation of a new public affairs policy for the Cemeteries, the establishment of more effective oversight of ANC’s budget formulation and execution, the review of ANC contracting in detail, and the establishment of the Army National Cemeteries Advisory Commission. To ensure steady progress in correcting ANC’s deficiencies between the 2010 and 2011 IG inspections, Secretary McHugh directed a series of external reviews. These included an interim review by the DAIG, and contract reviews by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Logistics and Technology and the Army Audit Agency. The Army’s Chief Information Officer was directed to conduct a complete review of information technology systems and applications. The Army’s Force Management Agency and Manpower Analysis Agency were also directed to review Arlington’s force structure and make recommendations. All of these directives were properly accomplished. These reviews combined with our 2011 follow-up inspection have ensured Arlington National Cemetery is receiving the necessary external oversight and assessment. It is clear to me that in adhering to Secretary McHugh’s directive, the Army has effectively set the conditions for continued and enduring mission accomplishment to standard at Arlington.
Effective Outreach and Support to Families Regarding Burial Discrepancies. During this summer’s inspection, we found that the ANCP’s leadership and staff were professional, compassionate, and supportive in providing information, support, and outreach to Families of interred and inurned veterans regarding inquiries regarding possible burial discrepancies at Arlington. Immediately upon assuming her position, the ANCP Executive Director established a hotline at Arlington to respond to burial inquiries and developed a tiered system to ensure that proper efforts were made to address family member concerns. In several cases, even though documents confirmed the locations of the deceased, the Cemetery supported family requests for physical verification in order to fully satisfy their concerns. To date, the Cemetery has received almost 1,300 inquires from family members. Since the hotline was established, in all but thirteen cases (which include the eight urns with cremated remains found together in one unmarked grave in October 2010), the Cemetery was able to assure family members that there were no discrepancies regarding the burial locations of their loved ones. In the 13 cases of substantiated burial discrepancies, the Cemetery worked closely with each family concerned and invited their participation (at Army expense, when required) in correcting the error and correcting and updating records accordingly. In the case of eight urns found in a single grave, only four were able to be positively identified. The Cemetery has reinterred the unidentified urns as “Unknown” remains, with the full dignity and respect they provide at any funeral service. To ensure that these inexcusable breaches of procedure are prevented in the future, the new Executive Director and Superintendent have thoroughly revised the Cemetery’s procedures for interring and disinterring veterans to ensure safeguards exist to prevent this kind of behavior in the future. The Executive Director and Superintendent published a 20 June 2011 policy memorandum titled Assurance of Proper Casket/Urn Placement. This policy addresses procedures the Cemetery staff must apply, beginning with the intake of the burial request through interment, specifies training and accountability measures, and provides guidance for correcting the misplacement of casketed or cremated remains. In each step, ANC Field Operations Supervisors are required to physically confirm preparation and closure of graves and countersign a “dig slip” to verify that remains are interned or inurned in the correct gravesite. The Cemetery’s General Foreman then inspects the process to ensure no deviation from the standard. The Cemetery continuously trains the workforce on these procedures and provides consistent, direct supervision. Because of these improvements, Arlington has experienced no burial discrepancies in the last year.
DAIG’s 2011 RE-INSPECTION OF ANCP AND ANC: KEY RECOMMENDATIONS
While the Army and ANCP staff have made great strides in correcting deficiencies noted in the DAIG’s 2010 inspection, fulfilled Secretary McHugh’s guidance issued in Army Directive 2010-04 and supported Families regarding burial errors, there is still more to do at Arlington. In this recent report, we presented Secretary McHugh with 53 recommendations designed to enhance the progress made to this point. A description of some of our key recommendations follows.
Policy Documentation. Army Directive 2010-04 established immediate oversight mechanisms to improve information technology, information assurance, contracting, engineering support, and force structure. In his directive, the Secretary established the Executive Director as the proponent for all policies related to the Army National Cemeteries Program. In this capacity, the Executive Director has been working with the Army Staff in updating the rule to the Code of Federal Regulations which applies to Arlington National Cemetery.
Additionally, the Executive Director is now working closely with the Headquarters, Department of the Army Staff to begin updating AR 290-5. We recommended in the 2011 report that the Executive Director should incorporate requirements for long-term, robust and continuous oversight processes and mechanisms in a revision of Army Regulation 290-5. We also recommended that the Executive Director should revise Department of the Army Pamphlet 290-5, Administration, Operation, Maintenance of Army Cemeteries, to provide all 28 Army post cemeteries with sound, authoritative, and current guidance on standardized processes and procedures for cemetery operations. As part of the revision of this Pamphlet, we also recommended that any policies, processes, and procedures peculiar to Arlington be removed from the DA Pamphlet and instead be published in Arlington National Cemetery’s standing operating procedures.
Creation of a Multi-Service Policy for Arlington. We recommended a multi-Service policy for Arlington. Servicemembers and veterans of all five Services (and Family members) are eligible for burial at Army National Cemeteries. Excluding Service Members who are killed in combat operations, wait times for funerals and burial are increasing and vary by Service. For example, in June 2010, it took an average of 74 days (from the day eligibility was determined) before a deceased veteran was interred / inurned with full honors at ANC, compared to 87 days in June 2011, with a range of delay of almost 30 days between Services. This disparity in wait times is attributed to the lack of a multi-Service policy for interment / inurnment honors and the different procedures employed by the Services to manage ceremonial and band units. The increase in wait times is due to the more accurate tracking of calls by the call center which created a more accurate demand signal for burials at Arlington than was being obtained under the previous administration. Under the previous system, Arlington lacked even a voice mail system for callers who were not able to reach a live person on the phone. Many of these families ultimately gave up having their loved ones buried at Arlington and sought arrangements elsewhere and the Cemetery never knew about their attempts. With the new call center, callers are assured of getting through to Arlington and getting a case opened to have their loved ones interred or inured, and therefore are more accepting of the delay because they know they will receive services. As trust in confidence has been restored, the true demand signal for burial at Arlington has increased, thereby increasing wait times. However, because of the lack of a multi-Service policy for interment / inurnment honors and the different procedures employed by the Services to manage ceremonial and band units, we have recommended the Army Secretariat engage the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to develop common policy, processes and procedures for honors and cemetery support operations that apply to all the Armed Services.
Long Term Command, Control, and Oversight of Army National Cemeteries. The Army must sustain the progress made at Arlington and prevent the Cemetery from returning to the insular organization it once was. We note that the Executive Director and her staff have fundamentally transitioned the control mechanisms and oversight of Cemetery operations. However, to ensure this continues in the long-term, we recommend the Department of the Army Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7 provide Secretary McHugh options on how to best integrate, long-term, the Army National Cemeteries Program’s command and control, organizational alignment and support relationships in accordance with established Army organizational structure (as a Direct Reporting Unit or Field Operating Agency, for example). We believe establishing this type of organizational identity and standard command and control structure for ANC will better align long-term responsibilities and oversight.
Inquiry into Wait Times and Cemetery Lifespan. During our inspection, we found that interments and inurnments at Arlington are increasing each year and that wait times at Arlington continue to increase. This may result in the Cemetery reaching its capacity before current projections. We recommended the Secretary of the Army request the Army National Cemeteries Advisory Commission, when convened, to examine the causes and effects of increasing wait times and increasing demand, and then make recommendations to contend with these issues.
As our inspection report indicates, the progress made at Arlington since last June is a “good news” story and shows a significant turn-around in performance at the Cemetery. Our inspection team found that the ANCP Executive Director, Superintendent , and staff are systematically correcting the deficiencies enumerated in the 2010 DAIG inspection report. As Secretary McHugh directed, Army agencies and organizations have completed (or are in the process of completing) the tasks specifically assigned to them in Army Directive 2010-04. Finally, the inspection team also found that ANCP’s efforts at providing outreach, information and support to Family members regarding burial discrepancies were professional and supportive. Simply put, the mismanagement that was found at the Cemetery in 2010 no longer exists.
The improvements observed and reported by the DAIG validate the Secretary’s approach to restoring the processes, systems, and management we found to be missing at Arlington in 2010. This strategy---executed passionately and diligently by the Cemeteries new leadership and staff, with the support of the Army, the Defense Department, other Federal agencies, and Congress---have set the conditions for continued improvement and ultimate success.
With this good news comes a realization that more hard work lays before us. The leadership and staff of the Army National Cemeteries Program must continue to complete the painstaking work required to update the Army’s relevant policy and procedural documents. The gravesite accountability baseline must be completed accurately and on time. The efficiencies and tools built and employed in the critical effort to establish gravesite accountability must be applied to the processes and systems currently at use at Arlington to avoid any future loss of fidelity. The Cemetery must complete the enhancement of its internal processes, protocols, and systems, and document these enhancements to ensure future effectiveness. Finally, the Army must optimize and institutionalize the support and oversight it provides its National Cemeteries and apply what it has learned and to all cemeteries, great and small, under Army purview.
As the Army’s Inspector General, I know that restoring Arlington remains a priority for the Secretary. In reflecting on the observations our agency has made during the many months of inspecting Arlington, I am confident that the Army National Cemeteries Program and the Army will succeed in this great endeavor.
1 September 2011
Inspection of the Army National Cemeteries Program
and Arlington National Cemetery
What We Did:
From 2 May to 5 August 2011, the Department of the Army Inspector General (DAIG) conducted a reinspection of the Army National Cemeteries Program (ANCP) and Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). The reinspection and this report served to assess and document compliance with, and the implementation and effect of, the approved recommendations of the DAIG's inspection report conducted on 9 June 2010. With a view to enabling the Secretary of the Army's report to Congress, as mandated by Public Law 111-339, dated 22 December 2010, the report also reflects findings and recommendations regarding the implementation of Army Directive (AD) 2010-04, dated 10 June 2010, and the review of ANC practices to provide information, outreach and support to families of individuals buried at ANC regarding procedures to detect and correct burial errors. The inspection team identified 31 observations, 2 other matters and made 53 recommendations.
What We Found:
- The ANCP and ANC staffs are implementing the recommendations from last year's inspection report. Significant progress has been made in all aspects of the Cemetery's performance, accountability and modernization.
- ANC and other Army agencies have executed their assigned tasks effectively, resulting in significant improvements at both Army National Cemeteries over the past 13 months and setting conditions for future success. Most critically, ANCP is on track to complete an accountability baseline for all gravesites and inurnment niches at ANC to support the Secretary's report to Congress on 22 December 2011.
- ANC's efforts to provide information, as well as, outreach and support to families regarding burial discrepancies were professional and supportive.
- Wait times are increasing for all types of ANC interment I inurnment services except for servicemembers killed-in-action. Requests for burial at ANC also are increasing and, at the current rate, ANC will be required to expand its capability to conduct in-ground burials before 2035.
What We Recommend:
The Secretary of the Army direct specified Headquarters, Department of the Army Staff elements and Army Field Operating Agencies to execute tasks intended to sustain and enhance the progress being made at ANC.
To the credit of the leadership and the workforce at Arlington National Cemetery, the DAIG report indicates that significant progress has been made in all aspects of the cemetery's performance, accountability and modernization. The following bullets demonstrate the progress that has been, and continues to be made to restore the Nation's confidence in Arlington National Cemetery (ANC).
- Workforce and Training: ANC has increased the end strength by 50 percent filling positions in key areas to efficiently run its complex missions. A priority for ANC leadership is training the workforce to industry best practices, standards and measures, as well as implementing standards operations and an internal assessment program.
- Accountability: Restoring faith and confidence of the American people starts with demonstrating a greater sense of accountability in all aspects of Arlington National Cemetery. Leveraging the Gravesite Accountability Task Force is the method ANC is using to establish an accountability baseline of all gravesites and inurnment niches. The implementation of the General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS) allows Arlington to be fiscally fully transparent and provide fiscal stewardship of all funds. Validating ANC contract requirements and recompeting all service contracts reduced the number of total service contracts from 26 to 16. Arlington also has instituted disciplined processes with oversight and direction to enhance procurement operations.
- Customer Focus: The care families deserve in their time of need requires a prompt, compassionate and professional engagement from ANC. As a result of family member inquires, we have conducted 16 physical gravesite verifications. Additionally, to streamline all customer interactions, ANC implemented the Consolidated Call Center and launched a new user friendly Web site allowing us to communicate in a relevant way with our stakeholders.
- Advisory Commission: As directed by the Secretary of the Army, the Army National Cemeteries Commission is on track to hold its first meeting this fall. This Federal Advisory Commission will provide an independent and holistic look at the future of Arlington and how best the Army and the Department of Defense can maintain the heritage of these scared burial grounds.
- Sustaining ANC: ANC has accelerated the construction of Columbarium Court 9, which will add 20,000 niches for inurnment services. Expansion plans for Arlington include 31 acres of undeveloped land known as the Millennium Project and 42 acres that will come with the Navy Annex property which will be acquired at the end of the calendar year.
ANC is dedicated to ensuring a place for the public to Honor, Remember and Explore the rich history of this great Nation. The cemetery had increased--and continues to work harder--its capacity to reach every generation in a relevant and compelling way.
Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to provide an update on progress at Arlington National Cemetery.
On June 10, 2010 circumstances at ANC came to light that degraded the trust and confidence of the American public. As you know, Mr. Chairman, widespread reports caused us all extreme concern regarding the level of standards and the quality of care taken to inter our Nation’s veterans and their loved ones at Arlington Cemetery.
After conducting an intensive review of Cemetery operations, a salient fact emerged. The main contributor to the state of Arlington at that time can be described as a lack of standards, a reliance on a number of ineffective business and operational practices and ineffective implementation of technology solutions. The organization still used typewriters to record critical information about veterans’ interment services and index cards held the record of burial for those laid to rest at Arlington. The skills of the workforce were misaligned to organizational needs and training was inadequate to properly and effectively perform assigned duties. Perhaps most important: effective rigor was not in place to maintain a standard of accountability befitting our veterans and their families. We have addressed this lack of standards and we are meeting the accountability challenge. Arlington now is on the path to meet the high quality standards expected of our Nation’s preeminent military cemetery.
Before addressing the Inspector General Report, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the courage and leadership of the Secretary of the Army, the Hon. John McHugh, who recognized the challenges and took bold steps. Secretary McHugh brought to bear the resources required from across the United States Army and Department of Defense to make meaningful corrections. We are grateful and honored that Secretary McHugh has placed his trust in our leadership and abilities to right the wrongs at Arlington.
PROGRESS AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
To be sure, Mr. Chairman, we have made tremendous progress at Arlington National Cemetery. Although much has been accomplished, we have much work to do. Yet, it is important that we recognize the diligent efforts put forth by the workforce each day. When we arrived at the cemetery 15 month ago, we found a workforce that was demoralized and lacked direction. Today that is no longer true.
Additionally Mr. Chairman, we found capability gaps in key areas of the Cemetery staff that needed to be addressed to move forward. The first gap filled to rebuild the workforce was hiring one of the most experienced, knowledgeable cemetery administrators in the land, Mr. Patrick Hallinan, as the ANC Superintendent. His 35 years in the industry set the pace for excellence by personally training the cemetery operations workforce to effectively accomplish the extraordinary mission at Arlington.
Over the past year, we filled positions in other key areas important to efficiently run the complex missions of Arlington National Cemetery. We increased workforce end strength by nearly 50 percent and implemented a new organizational structure to manage the new augmented workforce. The organization already has made significant and measurable improvement and we will continue to evolve to meet/exceed the expectations of our many stakeholders.
We continue to implement a comprehensive training program for our workforce. Starting with a six-step chain of custody process, implemented by Superintendent Hallinan, the staff is focused on maintaining positive identification of remains during pre-burial activities and ensures positive identification of remains when disinterment is required. These identification practices apply to all types of receptacles for remains. Additionally, to aid with the oversight of fiscal stewardship, several members of the workforce have successfully completed contracting officer representative, regulatory ethics, and government purchase card program training.
We have stood up the Gravesite Accountability Task Force; a joint military-civilian team focused on driving greater accountability and restoring faith and confidence of the American people. The actions of the Task Force will meet and exceed requirements of Army Directive 2010-04 and Public Law 111-339. The Accountability Task Force has digitally photographed 100 percent of the markers and niche covers and initiated a digital scan of all supporting paper records. We have leveraged Army technology experts, notably at the Army Data Center Fairfield, California, now named The Army Analytics Group, to create the tools necessary to review and electronically cross reference all of our records dating back to the Civil War. Task Force personnel work daily reviewing every record and assembling a single authoritative data base for Arlington National Cemetery. The business processes built by the Gravesite Accountability Task Force are now the day-to-day standards and practices which the workforce applies to ensure the validation process is sustained as we move forward.
We have resolved the 211 map discrepancies identified in the 2010 Inspector General report over the past year. As well, as a result of family member inquiries, we have conducted 16 physical gravesite verifications.
Mr. Chairman, the Army has made a tremendous leap in effective use of technology at Arlington, bringing the cemetery into compliance with information assurance requirements established by the Army’s Chief Information Officer. We have replaced the paper records of the past, with a digital system that uses industry best practices in database management. To schedule interments, our team is leveraging a state-of-the-art system that ensures visibility for all appropriate stakeholders and an ability to share information like never before. We have initiated a Geospatial Application Development initiative at Arlington. This will form a "Google-maps” like information system that enables the Cemetery to better manage the grounds, grave and niche assignments and provide street directions and site locations to our guests. Arlington has embarked on an all-encompassing effort to develop baseline enterprise architecture. This formal review will capture all business processes and dependencies and drive the development of integrated solutions. By formally documenting all requirements, information technology can be applied in a consistent way that eliminates redundancy while increasing availability and most importantly, accuracy of cemetery data.
Most recently, we launched a new Arlington National Cemetery web site that rivals the looks and functionality of any web site on the Internet. I encourage you to review the new Web site and see firsthand how we communicate in a more relevant way with our stakeholders.
We have ensured fiscal accountability and stewardship through the implementation of the General Fund Enterprise Business System (GFEBS) to ensure full visibility on all cemetery expenditures. GFEBS allows Arlington to be fully transparent and provide fiscal stewardship of all funds expenditures, accurately capturing the true cost to operate this national shrine on an annual basis.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, Arlington encountered challenges in the area of contracting resulting in the improper management of millions-of-taxpayer dollars. Over the last year, we have validated Arlington’s contract requirements and re-competed all service contracts. In so doing, we reduced the number of total service contracts from 26to 16.
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY: MOVING FORWARD
While we have had to look back over the past 15 months to affect meaningful change at Arlington, we also have set the pace for the future of these hallowed grounds.
In late August, the Army National Cemeteries Commission, as directed by Secretary McHugh, had eight of nine nominees approved for appointment by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This Federal Advisory Commission will provide an independent and holistic look at the future of Arlington and how best the Army and the Department of Defense can continue the legacy of dignified services on these hallowed burial grounds for our Nation’s veterans and their families while preserving the rich history of the 628 acres nestled along the rolling hills across the Potomac River from our Nation’s capital.
We have directed the development of a revised Master Plan. As part of that effort, the cemetery has put in place a plan for interring and inurning remains beyond 2016, the year it presently is projected to run out of above ground inurnment space. To meet burial needs for all veterans, we have accelerated plans for erecting an additional 20,000-niche columbarium to extend above ground burial space to last until 2024. Additionally, we re-evaluated and developed new options for the planned development associated with the Millennium Project, which also provides for additional above and below ground burial space from undeveloped land from adjoining Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall. The United States Army Corps of Engineers’ Norfolk District is applying best practices to determine the most effective and efficient cemeterial use of this land as well as the Navy Annex property to be acquired at the end of this calendar year.
Arlington National Cemetery is a place available for every generation to Honor, Remember, and Explore the depths of the creation of this great Nation and the heroes which have made incredible sacrifices for freedom. We have greatly increased our capacity to reach every generation through our new web site which veterans, family members and children will find engaging, user friendly, and informative. We want all to explore the cemetery’s rich history, to touch the final resting place of their loved ones who have sacrificed for our Nation’s freedoms, and to enjoy the landscape of our Nation’s capital. Nowhere else in the world can one find the magnificent social and military history of the Civil War, witness first-hand our Nation’s reverence for our war dead at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and memorialize significant National events such as space shuttle tragedies and the attacks of 9/11. We owe our veterans, their families and all future generations a full accounting at Arlington National Cemetery and that is exactly what we intend to provide. We look to the future to make Arlington a place to Honor, Remember, Explore.
Conducting military burial services with dignity, honor and precision has been a part of the fabric of Arlington National Cemetery since its very first burial more than 150 years ago. Those at Arlington who lay to rest our national heroes and their families have always had a special, unbreakable bond with the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen of this Nation’s fighting forces. During the average of 27 services per day at Arlington, they lay to rest one of their own. We are proud of the work we have accomplished over the last 15 months to bring all aspects of Arlington in line with the rich, proud and dignified traditions befitting our Nation’s military heroes.
Thank you for your attention today and for allowing me to share our progress to date. I look forward to answering your questions.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
The hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery, a little over 600 acres of northern Virginia hillside, has stood since the Civil War as the crown jewel of reverence for fallen warriors, the men and women who have served this Nation in peacetime and war in the air, on land and at sea. Arlington National Cemetery is the epicenter of a country’s reverence for these servicemembers. This is the sacred ground of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, and John F. Kennedy’s Eternal Flame.
Over the last several years, the American public has learned the manner in which past management of these grounds led to a state of disorder, disrepair and disrespect that was clearly disgraceful. There is very little to be served by reciting a litany of the past failures. Rather it is far more important to acknowledge the intervening successes and recognize the remaining challenges.
Last summer, in June of 2010, the transition of management began. Kathryn Condon took up the post of Executive Director of the Army National Cemeteries Program, and other changes would follow. Director Condon and her team have been tireless and honest, sometimes brutally so, in the pursuit of righting this sinking ship. The American Legion applauds Director Condon for her forthright efforts to correct these errors.
In Washington, it is not unheard of to sweep unpleasant truths out of the public eye. Facts which reflect poorly upon an organization or program are recast with new spin. It’s almost unheard of to admit to shortcomings and failings. Given the preoccupation with self-preservation, the candor from the new management team over the past year has been refreshing. This administration has not shied from hard truths; they have instead met them head on.
The news coming from the cemetery was seldom good, and often horrifying, but it was also honest. America learned of mislabeled remains, and bodies of our Nation’s fallen heroes buried in the wrong locations. This was not some trivial matter thought to have occurred once or twice, but perhaps in thousands of locations. Cemetery staff, when questioned by incoming management regarding standard procedure manuals for burials and plot alignment, admitted no such written records existed, and work had been handed down by word of mouth. Electronic records did not exist; information was stored on index cards. As anyone who has spent even an hour in the armed forces will tell you, military operations succeed largely due to rigid adherence to standard operating procedures. Arlington Cemetery had none of these standard operating procedures, only a collection of anecdotal practices likely to vary from one person to the next.
Perhaps the only thing more eye-opening than the litany of prior failings at the cemetery was the willingness of new management to dig deep enough to find all of the errors and begin plans to set them aright.
Over a year later, Arlington Cemetery is far from fixed, but it is on the road to recovery. The American Legion believes it is important to call attention to the hard work and dedication of this staff because it is far outside the norm for business as usual in Washington. In government, all too often when problems surface, they are swept under a rug in the hopes a distracted public will soon forget and move on to the next issue of outrage.
The willingness of Director Condon and her staff to meet these issues openly, with candor and sensitivity, yet still with unflinching honesty, is worthy of high praise. The behavior of these individuals should be an example to the rest of the Federal Government in how to behave when you let the public down. They do not make excuses. They do not make empty promises. They roll up their sleeves, humbly tell you they are sorry for past actions and are willing to make things right, and then they go about doing just that.
Whether the Army retains the ultimate ongoing responsibility of managing, operating, and maintaining Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery remains to be seen. The American Legion has made clear our position that this responsibility would best be placed under the auspices of the National Cemetery Administration and their long track record of operating the Nation’s 131 national cemeteries. Under such reorganization, of course the ceremonial duties would be preserved as the domain of the Army through the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard.” The American Legion believes the responsibilities of "The Old Guard,” which include conducting military ceremonies, manning the 24-hour vigil at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and being the provider of military funeral escorts at Arlington, should never change, as a result of any reorganization associated with Arlington National Cemetery.
Each and every agency of the Federal Government is charged with a mission. For the Army, that mission is providing for the Nation’s defense. For the National Cemetery Administration that mission is to provide dignified burial for military veterans and their families and to maintain our Nation’s military cemeteries as the national shrines we expect them to be. While The American Legion believes the U.S. Army is certainly capable of executing duties outside those most basic to providing for the national defense with honor and success, we do not believe there is reason to call upon them to do so when there is a body such as NCA capable of meeting those needs.
We cannot escape the past of Arlington. The Army asked to be given the chance to erase the dark stain upon their honor and through the efforts of the current administration they have done so. Every day the men and women who work to restore Arlington to its unimpeachable ideal bring honor to the Army, and most importantly to the men and women they serve; the interred remains of our fallen. The American Legion applauds the efforts and results of those who have worked so hard to turn Arlington back to the proper path. While the destination of that path has yet to be determined, it can at least be said those responsible for shepherding this sacred place of honor down that path are doing so with the respect and dedication needed.
INTRODUCTION–Reserves are part of the Total Force
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, the Reserve Officers Association (ROA) and the Reserve Enlisted Association (REA) would like to thank the Subcommittee for the opportunity to submit testimony. ROA and REA applaud the ongoing efforts by Congress to address issues facing veterans and serving members such as veteran status, mental health assessments, tax exemptions, and claims processing.
Though contingency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are expected to drawdown currently there are still high levels of mobilizations and deployments, and many of these outstanding citizen soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen have put their civilian careers on hold while they serve their country in harm’s way. As we have learned, they share the same risks and their counterparts in the Active Components on the battlefield. Recently we passed the 800,000th mark for the number of Reserve and Guard servicemembers who have been activated since Post-9/11. More than 275,000 have been mobilized two or more times. While the United States is creating a new generation of combat veterans that come from its Reserve Components (RC), Arlington policies remain pre-September 11, 2001. We can’t ignore the benefits that they are entitled or overlook their selfless service to their country
DISCUSSION–not all Reserve warriors are entitled to Arlington Burials
ROA and REA have long supported the concept of “total force.” National Guard and Reserve members deserve parity in benefits as they both backfill for, and serve alongside members of the Active component. With the Nation at war in two theaters, the Reserve Component has played a major role in the success of the volunteer armed forces, with Reserve Component members who been killed in the line of duty being honored with burial eligibility at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). ROA maintains that this eligibility criteria needs to be expanded.
Given that over 800,000 National Guard and Reserve servicemembers have answered their Nations call to serve on active duty for both home land defense and overseas contingency operations, it is ironic that by returning to Selective Reserve status, they are no longer eligible for burial at ANC unless they have been decorated with a Purple Heart, a Medal of Valor, a Silver Star or higher.
Qualifying for retirement with 20 years of satisfactory Federal service is not enough either. National Guard and Reserve members must be retired in pay to be burial eligible.
ROA supports in-ground burial eligibility for:
- Any Reserve Component member who has served on active duty honorably in a combat or hazardous duty zone, but who has not been killed in the line of duty.
- National Guard and Reservists who are killed in the line of duty whether on Active Duty for Training (ADT), Active Duty for Special Work (ADSW) for less than 30 days, or Individual Duty Training (IDT).
- Deceased gray-area retirees, if entitled to retirement pay under Title 10.
- Spouses, surviving spouses, or dependent children of any group of eligible National Guard and Reserve members.
Codifying the Rules for Interment in Arlington National Cemetery
In regard to the rules for interment in ANC, ROA continues to support the codification of all the rules governing access to ANC. ROA strongly recommends that the Committee take up the issue of the overall codification of the rules governing ANC burial at their earliest opportunity
Currently, “gray-area” retirees, who have retired from the National Guard or Reserve but are under the age of 60, as well as current Guard and Reserve servicemembers who die while conducting their training periods, are ineligible for burial at ANC, while their active duty counterparts are eligible under similar circumstances.
The duties of the National Guard and Reserve, which include pilots, combat warriors, elite Special Forces, military police and numerous other vital MOS roles, are assuming risks in training for their missions. This training is performed outside of active duty.
Under Army regulations, 32 CRF 553.15, the persons specified below, whose last period of active duty in the Armed Forces ended honorably, are eligible for in-ground burial at Arlington National Cemetery:
- Any active duty member of the Armed Forces, except those servicing on active duty for training purposes only.
- Any veteran retired from active military service with the Armed Forces.
- Any veteran who is retired from the Reserves is eligible upon reaching the age of 60 and who is drawing retired pay, and who served a period of active duty (other than for training).
- Any former member of the Armed Forces separated honorably prior to October 1, 1949, for medical reasons with a 30 percent or greater disability rating effect on the day of discharge.
- Any former member of the Armed Forces awarded one of the following decorations: Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross (Air Force Cross or Navy Cross), Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, or Purple Heart.
- The current and any former President of the United States.
- Any former member of the Armed Forces who served on active duty (other than for training purposes) and held any of the following positions: an elective offices of the U.S. Government, Office of the Chief Justice of the United States or an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, an office listed, at the time the individual held the position, in 5 USC 5312 or 5313 (Levels I and II of the Executive Schedule), or the chief of a mission who at the time during his or her tenure was classified in Class I under the provision of Section 411, Act of 13 August 1946, 60 Stat. 1002, as amended (22 USC 866) or as listed in the State Department memorandum dated March 21, 1988.
- Any former prisoner of war (POW) who, while a POW, served honorably in the active military, naval or air service, whose last period of service terminated honorably and who died on or after November 30, 1993.
- The spouse, widow or widower, minor children, permanently dependent children, and certain unmarried adult children of any above eligible veterans.
- The widow or widower of: a member of the Armed Forces lost or buried at sea, or officially determined missing in action, a member of the Armed Forces buried in a U.S. military cemetery overseas maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission, or a member of the Armed Forces interred in Arlington National Cemetery as part of a group burial.
- The parents of a minor child, or permanently dependent child whose remains, based on the eligibility of a parent, are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A spouse divorced from the primary eligible, or widowed and remarried, is not eligible for interment.
- The surviving spouse, minor children, and permanently depended children of any eligible veteran buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
- Provided certain conditions are met, a former member of the Armed Forces may be buried in the same grave with a close relative who is buried in Arlington National Cemetery and who is primary eligible.
The rules for interment at Arlington National Cemetery were intended to allocate remaining burial capacity in the cemetery to honor those who have contributed to the national security of the United States. Yet, recently acquired land has removed the urgency of an allocation that excludes the National Guard and Reserve members. In a “total force,” care must be taken to recognize the contributions of the National Guard and Reserve members who are performing the same missions as their counterparts. They should be allowed the same eligibility at the time of their death.
The Reserve Officers Association and Reserve Enlisted Association again thank the Subcommittee for holding a hearing on this subject, and permitting ROA and REA to submit a statement for the record.