By NICK SCHWELLENBACH
POGO got word this morning that Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) Gordon Heddell announced earlier this week that he will step down as IG on December 24, Christmas Eve. Heddell's email announcing his upcoming resignation is posted below.
Heddell has had a challenging task. To say that the DoD is a bastion of questionable spending and is rife with secrecy would be understatements. But that would only begin to describe the oversight difficulties. It is essentially the only government department that is unauditable. Different whistleblower laws with different standards apply to civilians versus military personnel versus contractor personnel. The chaos of war makes fact-finding more difficult and more expensive to conduct. Plus, Heddell inherited an office that has been described by many insiders who've talked to me and others as a backbiting place. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) is a bit of a colossus too: more than 1600 people worked in the OIG as of March of this year.
But from what I've observed, Heddell's steady hand at the tiller for the last several years has healed some of the internal problems with the OIG, and has been a key reason for the improvements in the OIG's auditing and revamping of its handling of whistleblower reprisal investigations. Heddell also instituted formal internal structures to handle misconduct claims coming from inside the OIG. This doesn't mean the OIG is out of the woods yet or is nearly as effective as it could be, as investigations by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) have argued. Yet it does seem to be moving in the right direction. For instance, some of the recent audits on spare parts overcharges dig deep.
I hope Heddell's last months as IG are productive and I wish the best of luck to him.
Nick Schwellenbach is POGO's Director of Investigations.
Photo of Heddell from the Recovery.gov website.
From: Heddell, Gordon S., OIG DoD
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 11:51 AM
To: List .All Users
Subject: Message to the OIG Team
It is with very mixed emotions that I announce to you today that I have advised President Obama and Secretary Panetta that I intend to step down as Inspector General of the Department of Defense on December 24, 2011.
Next month I will have been in public service for almost 43 years - 11 as an Inspector General, plus 28 with the Secret Service and 4 as an Army aviator.My family obligations make this the right time for me to pursue a new career challenge, but it's difficult to imagine that any other job could be more rewarding than working as the DoD Inspector General.
While this is the right time for me personally, it is also the right time for the organization. The new strategic plan that we developed will provide the framework for the next 5 years as you move forward to accomplish our organization's mission. We also have a unified senior leadership team in place that will take this organization to the next level. They understand the challenges and are committed to engaging our workforce to achieve our mission.
But most importantly, you -- our outstanding team of men and women -- will continue to make the Department stronger and our warfighters safer. I have no doubt that you will continue to execute our mission with the highest levels of integrity and excellence, and that the Department will continue to benefit greatly from your work.
Thank you for the privilege of serving as your Inspector General.