Pentagon releases guide to avoid graft
By Dan De Luce, AFP
February 3, 2014, 1:48 am TWN
WASHINGTON--The Pentagon has tallied reports of a shameful litany of bad behavior among its officers and employees in a voluminous tome entitled "The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failures."
From bribery to kickbacks to falsifying travel expenses, the document is designed as a guide — and a warning — to teach troops and civil servants about ethics laws.
Written in a breezy style free of bureaucratic jargon, the annual catalogue is updated every year with fresh examples of poor judgment and scams gone wrong.
Published by the General Counsel's Standards of Conduct Office, this year's edition includes the story of three generals and an admiral who extended an official trip to Tokyo by a day so they could enjoy a round of golf — at a cost to taxpayers of about US$3,000.
That case was listed under the heading: "A Swing and a Miss for Senior Officers Using Government Funds on Golf Outing."
In another entry dubbed "The Ultimate Deceit," one submarine officer tried to end an extramarital affair by staging his own death, arranging for his mistress to receive a false notice that he had died while on duty.
"Upon receipt of the letter, his mistress showed up at the Commander's house to pay her respects, only to be informed, by the new owners, of the Commanders reassignment and new location," it said.
The officer lost his command.
Much of the 163-page encyclopedia is devoted to bribery, usually involving a civilian or officer with authority over lucrative government contracts.
In a case at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, a U.S. Army Major James Momon took US$5.8 million in bribes from five firms in return for awarding them major contracts for supplying bottled water and other items to various bases.
For the military, ethics has come in for a renewed focus after a spate of embarrassing incidents linking top officers to illegal gambling, heavy drinking and adulterous affairs.
The encyclopedia has numerous examples of civil servants across the federal government trying to steal or cheat their way to extra cash, including immigration agents, lawmakers' aides and Internal Revenue Service tax collectors offering special favors in return for bribes.
A case featuring two workers at the Veterans Affairs administration offered a new take on "government red tape:" the two were accused of taking kickbacks from a company supplying red tape to their office.
The authors say they came up with the encyclopedia as a way to educate senior officials about ethics rules without a boring summary of regulations.
"Our goal is to provide DoD (Department of Defense) personnel with real examples of Federal employees who have intentionally or unwittingly violated the standards of conduct," says the introduction.
"Some cases are humorous, some sad, and all are real."
The latest edition, which was issued in July, was first spotted by the Foreign Policy website. The Pentagon tends not draw attention to the encyclopedia, but a spokesman said: "The document is pretty specific and speaks for itself."
Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale said the book is "a good tool for anyone charged with teaching — and enforcing — the high ethical standards rightly demanded of those in public service."