Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Clifford Stanley: bad guy or hated fixer?


Who is Clifford Stanley?
The Pentagon inspector general is investigating Clifford Stanley, the official charged with overseeing the Defense Department’s massive personnel bureaucracy, after a spate of highly detailed allegations of gross mismanagement and abuse of power. He's accused of firing respected senior staff, neglecting programs for wounded troops, and using limited funds on expensive consultants and a lavish new conference room.
My first instincts are to be a little suspicious of IG investigations as we all know - just because someone claims something does not make it true.

OK, Shipmates - does this sound familiar?
"He has created a dysfunctional command marked by fear and mistrust through a capricious, tyrannical and arbitrary leadership,” the complaint states. “Waste, fraud and abuse of power are rampant. Even if he were competent, his destructive leadership would assure ‘P&R’ (personnel and readiness) mission failure.”
...
"Dr Stanley has demonstrated that he is vindictive against those who merely offer contrary opinions," the July 11 complaint claims. "The reprisals he would carry out against those who lodged a complaint would be severe."
2 out of 3 GOFO I have worked for would have a certain percentage of their Staff make that complaint. Most of those @55h@1es got the job done though and we were better for it. In this case; this could all be true, but ...

Go back to the first quote;
He's accused of firing respected senior staff...
That got my antenna tingl'n.

Ahhh, HA!
The complaints charge that Stanley decimated much of the institutional knowledge within personnel and readiness offices by transferring, firing, or forcing into retirement 30 civilians in the top-tier senior executive service ranks. A senior P&R official said he couldn't believe all 30 were unfit for their jobs, saying it cost the department a huge loss in brain trust.

At least two other officials – a colonel and a high-ranking government civilian – were fired on the spot, sending a “chilling tone” throughout P&R offices, according to the July 11 complaint.
There we go. He went after dead weight SES and they are not pleased. They are playing death buy bureaucratic investigation. Yes, I have an attitude problem towards SES - for good reason.

Sit around a table with 10 SES, and if 8 of them left tomorrow the organization would function better. SES on average have a sense of entitlement "I'm a 1-star equivalent" that simply is not reflected in the value they add to an organization. They are just another layer to deal with between the problem and a solution.

Is it possible that you have a 2-Star Marine who cleaned house with attitude and made some enemies? I'll give that 51%. Could Stanley be a train wreck as alleged? Maybe, we'll see.

Wait for the IG report to finish. I'll give Stanley the benefit of the doubt over a gaggle of pampered, over paid, oxygen thieves.

As for the comment about the conference room, how lame. Might as well blame President Obama for to cost to mow your yard.

43 comments:

goatmaster89 said...

Phib -  This is paragraph that got my attention: 

"Stanley, meanwhile, has created new and often redundant positions within P&R, at an added expense to the Defense Department, according to a May complaint filed by unnamed Defense Department executives. In one case, Stanley tapped former Maine Gov. John Baldacci to be the department’s “health czar.” Officials argue in the complaint that Baldacci and his team are doing work that should be handled by the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and his staff." 

When an Under Secretar starts creating new SES positions as he gets rid of old SESers - that's not a good sign.  Still - it is best to keep powder dry until the investigation is complete.

DeltaBravo said...

The telling point will be whether that $30k of "wall art" in the conference room went to more friends of Stanley or whether it was apportioned out to wounded warriors who got paid for their art while doing occupational rehab therapy.

This all sounds like absolute power corrupting absolutely.   Especially when I get calls from Texas AmVets asking for donations because our wounded warriors have to wait more than a year to get their benefits started.

What is this guy's real job again?  (Other than holding staff meetings?)

Somewhere between blind defense of him and the caustic complaints lies the truth.  But when people start buying $20k chairs and hiring friends I'm suspicious which end of the spectrum is truthier.

Anonymous said...

Baldacci doesn't know a damn thing about health. He's a vegan and he brought the Dirigo Health plan to Maine which ruined the state's finances.

Steel City said...

Oxygen thieves ;) ...great line.  The 8 out of 10 theory is about right overall...less where I work now but was closer to 100% at a previous position.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Clifford O. Stanley does not have a very good track record.  I would like to dismiss the complaints as the usual disgruntled bitching that happens when someone makes changes.  But having served with many who worked with and for the man, Marines whose professionalism I admire and opinions I trust, plus my personal observations of him, the complaints have an all-too familiar ring. 

Publicly admonishing/firing/disciplining, playing of favorites, absolute ruthlessness about crushing those who offer a dissenting opinion.  They are all a part of the picture painted elsewhere.  Riding the accomplishments of his staff, and leaving ruined careers on his path to promotion.

And the admission on the part of some who were in the position to know, that Stanley did not reach the position he held in the Marine Corps, nor in his current job, based on performance, merit, or suitability.  He was described, tellingly, as "otherwise not competitive".  One can guess easily as to why he was where he was, or is where he is.   (Hint" "It makes us stronger.")

Barco Sin Vela II said...

I have more of a problem with the time to process disability claims increased from 270 days to 404 days.

Unsat.

Staff Puke said...

<span><span>"He has created a dysfunctional command marked by fear and mistrust through a capricious, tyrannical and arbitrary leadership,” </span></span>
<span><span></span></span>
<span><span>  Reads like a SWO FITREP.......</span></span>

DeltaBravo said...

Is the next sentence "Recommend for further command?"

John said...

Interesting biography.
http://www.defense.gov/bios/biographydetail.aspx?biographyid=245

Looking at it, one could get the impression that his assignments were high visibility, but not necessarily those demanding the best and brightest officers.  I get the distinct impression that he was a "diversity" quota and probably milked the system for all it was worth, both on duty and in his academic pursuits.

Let's see how the investigation turns out before casting final judgment, but that seems to be a lot of smoke about his actions.  If it were limited to sh!tcanning SES types, I would say "hurray!" but it sounds like he just liked firing people because he could.

One question-  Is he connected at all to the idiotic Defense Business Board that came up with the horrendously detrimental new retirement proposals?

GBS said...

There are a few aviators who could own that bullet as well.

Redeye80 said...

I guess he is no different than some the Flags I have known.  The halls are littered with the dead careers of those who tried to do right rather than give in to the whims of a "what's in it for me" Boss. 

These guys stay connected to the Defense Department as finding a civilian job that will put up with his crap would be hard to find regardless "how strong" he makes us.  Just saying.

Redeye80 said...

Sal, your hatred of SESes has blinded you on this one.  Standley ain't doing what he is doing to clean house.  He has an agenda, none of it good for those in service.

Grumpy Old Ham said...

Not just the ones wearing gold wings, either...

BarefootCali said...

Stanley was CG when we lived out in 29 Palms.  He was tyrannical and vindictive then, so not much has changed in the past 11 years.  He was not well liked there and we all breathed a sigh or relief when he was gone.  He created an "aura of fear and mistrust" back then by having MPs sit outside the Enlisted/SNCO and Officer Clubs until patrons would leave and then follow them.  This was not done arbitrarily, it was done to a number of people throughout his reign of terror there.  So, what happened is that nobody did anything anymore because everyone knew that Stanley's boys were just waiting for you, so why bother?  It pretty much wrecked the club system on base for years.  

Grumpy Old Ham said...

Hmmm...the pose in that image appears eerily familiar....I know I've seen something like it before...

Grasshopper said...

Major General Stanley was a Lt. General selectee but opted to move on.  Second, he's an erudite, practical, and caring leader that holds people to the "highest standards" of performance.  I was in the Corps a number years, and frankly it was common for some of our brethren to call into the question the competence of african american generals ONLY because of their race.  I've worked for some nimrods (generals) who were seething political animals that were promoted to rank and positions of authority because of their connections to the very exclusive good ole boy network.  The fact that any african american general actually became general is a noteworthy accomplishment in itself due to the political and institutional odds that they faced. Now to the DOD IG stuff. My bet, and you can take this and run to Vegas and start a line, is that a bunch of ole disgruntled "winnies" with cush jobs feel the heat that General Stanley is bringing.  The General is a leader with few peers, a Marines Marine, a troop caring Marine, many say he could have easily been The Commandant but fate has a way to change the course of time.  Bottom line is he loves Marines, and he loves and is dutibound to provide the best care and support for ALL servicemen, and he will hold his subordinates to the "HIGHEST ORDER" of accountability to discharge his responsibilities- so its no wonder that while the kitchen is HOT some of the staff doesn't like what's on the menu.  Lastly, for the less informed, there is a General Stanley Park outside of 29 Palms that serves as a reminder of how much impact he had on the lives of Marines under his charge while he was the CG at 29 Palms. Semper Fidelis!

UltimaRatioRegis said...

"<span>I was in the Corps a number years, and frankly it was common for some of our brethren to call into the question the competence of african american generals ONLY because of their race."</span>

Bullsh*t.  Nobody ever questioned the competence of Walt Gaskin or Ron Bailey.

DeltaBravo said...

 a  USMC Lt. General selectee who could have been Commandant but opted to move on?

Is there really ever such a thing?   Those particular puzzle pieces don't fit well.  

Your glowing praise is directly contradictory to the statements of others.  Two opposite ideas cannot both be true at the same time.  Except maybe if you were his pet grasshopper and everyone else wasn't.

Not knowing the personalities I just find it fascinating to see these extreme polarities expressed about him.  The IG results should be interesting. 

The proof is usually in the pudding.

Redeye80 said...

"a Lt. General selectee" what the f$ck is that?  Last time I checked, O-9/10s are nominated by the President and then confirmed by the Senate.  So, he was confimed and then left?? Really?

Most of the Marine I served with called someone incompetent becasue they were.  Never mattered about skin tone, competence & credibility were all that counted.

Sounds like you are setting the stage for when the IG comes back with a less than glowing opinion, you can say it was race.  BS!

Never served with him and I am glad I never did, but heard the stories.  I got lucky and missed this train wreck.

xformed said...

Appears as if the subject of the post has come to make a comment... :)

milprof said...

For what it's worth, I crossed paths a few times with Stanley's predecessor, David Chu, who was in the job for the whole Bush administration.  Thought extremely well of him from what I saw:  very sharp, hands-on interest in training and education, didn't expect any VIP treatment at all.  He had a reputation for having a well-run office.  Chu is a career defense analyst (e.g., RAND) who brought in what seemed to be well-qualfied staff, from the bios I saw.  He seemed pretty unlikely to be appointing political hacks and personal buddies to SES positions.  I don't know any more about how things are under Stanley than what's in the article, but from what I'd heard/seen before 2009 P&R didn't sound like one of the corners most in need of housecleaning.

I did see Stanley give a speech once.  Not impressive at all, but that says relatively little about leadership style.

Anonymous said...

that paragraph brings two things to mind:

1. the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and staff is not competent or not up to speed.

2. plain old empire building.

FCC said...

What xformef said

John said...

Grasshopper- That was sarcasm, right?
Or a paid political announcement?
It just does not ring true to me, sorry, especially the racism innuendo, unless your Marine friends are totally different from mine.

And the "LTG selectee" stuff sounds like something that the character under discussion may have told people, but does not match with the nomination/confirmation process which is a matter of public record.

CDR Salamander said...

R80,
Hate?  That's strong. Unimpressed?  Sure.  Also, read again - I have an open mind, "<span>Is it possible that you have a 2-Star Marine who cleaned house with attitude and made some enemies? I'll give that 51%. Could Stanley be a train wreck as alleged? Maybe, we'll see.</span> "

e ringer said...

p&r is a sh&t sandwich and stanley was trying to clean house. 

Grasshopper said...

Let me pose a question! Let's say your Grandmother, Grandfather, Mother, Father, Grandchild, or Grandchildren were publicly slandered on a public blog. Later we find out the slanderous comments were determined to be factually false.  What happens to the initial public slander that taints one's image on a worldwide public blog? Does it go away? No! Will it remain for a VERY VERY long time for your Grandchildren, Children, Mother, Father, and Grandparents to see and read? Most definitely! Now those who are reading this note, put yourself in General Stanley's shoes, and now you're the victim of such slander. How would you feel?
  
Their (SESs that started this spineless crap) day of reckoning is coming.  The cloud of both the IG investigation and the SESs duck and run tactic using the "Whistle Blowers Act" for protection will blow away.  Unfortunately, their internet blog posts about a good man will live on in infamy.

Grasshopper

Anonymous said...

"<span>Their (SESs that started this spineless crap) day of reckoning is coming."</span>

Can you say the same about the person who made the issue of Captain Honors four years hence? 

Stanley is in a public position.  Comes with the territory.  He doesn't wanna be a public official, he should go into business for himself. 

However, much as I don't care for Stanley or how he does business, I do believe he understands it comes with the territory.

DeltaBravo said...

Grasshopper, I would just say that Phib is an honorable man and his blog has maintained its integrity.   He is the kind of person who would come back with an update if new information came out and the results of the IG investigation either vindicated Stanley or condemned him.  Phib is a fair man.  Did he make up the SES complaints?  No.  He just shone a spotlight on something else that followed a familiar pattern.  Don't shoot the messenger.

He's already taken a wait and see attitude.  With a "does smoke connotate fire" caveat. 

Stick around and see how Phib does it.  He keeps it classy.   Also note his own view of many SES types. 

CDR Salamander said...

Wow.  I thought this post was very fair to both sides. 

Grasshopper, you still haven't taken the pebble from my hand.

Grasshopper said...

(Part 1)
It's intuitively insulting once you start comparing a MORALLY CORRUPT BELLY CRAWLIN' person like Captain Honors with a very honorable God fearing man like General Stanley.  Such a premise is flawed logically and in very poor taste. I can say one thing with great clarity, General Stanley would have fired Captain Honors too!
<span></span>
<span>

<span>In addition, we hear about how General Stanley has turned back years of progress by demoting or firing prominent African American SESs from key posts of authority- laughable, and won't stick (The General is color blind to high expectations and accountability: doesn't matter if they were black, blue, green or turquoise). If they were deemed to be incompetent and not accountable to his expectations, they got what they deserved!  Any in the know, knows that General Stanley has been instrumental in mentoring ALL Marines (mentorship is a top priority of his- he treats it as a "ministry"),including Walt Gaskin and Ron Bailey both of whom I know personally from either our days as Lieutenants on Okinawa or at MCRD Parris Island.</span>
<span></span>
</span>

Grasshopper said...

(Part 2)
<span>The greatest of these allegations, (1) the $400,000 conference room facelift, and (2) the cruise ship "party" thing, will both be found to be baseless.  First, the audit and paper trail on the conference room facelift will render the complaint false.  Second, the luxury cruise boat party will render the complaint false: what's laughable is that General Stanley has never been on a cruise ship. The only ships he's ever served on was a LST as part of a BLT and as the Fleet Marine Officer with 2nd Fleet.  At the blink of an eye, that's like a nano-second, both of these chief complaints will be rendered baseless false lies. Ironically, the twist of fate may turnaround against the accusing SESs and provide documentation to be used against them: Not sure how the Federal Whistle Blowers Act reads, I could be wrong about this twisting fate as I’m not an attorney.</span>

Grasshopper said...

(Part 3)
<span>So at the end of the day, we all just have to wait for that darn IG investigation.  We all got to wait while the IG investigates all these baseless claims, and then give them time to comb thru the collateral stuff that will surely come up like (1) whether he graduated from a prestigious Ivy league school with a Doctorate Degree, (2) whether he graduated from another great institution, John Hopkins, with a Masters w/ honors, (3) whether he was a White House Fellow, (4) whether he taught leadership and psychology at the Naval Academy, (5) whether he paid his taxes (ha- what a joke), (6) whether he was the military aide to the Under Secretary of Defense, (7) whether he used government funds to pay for an all expense paid party on a luxury cruiseliner(ha- another joke- you just can't make this stuff up), (8) whether he's authorized to wear the military decorations he wore (always the catchall "gotcha" for fishermen, and the list goes on and on.</span>
<span> </span>
<span>Lastly, since graduating from undergraduate school, General Stanley has been in public service his entire career.  That's a priority in his life- service to God, service and devotion to his family, and service to ALL under his command.</span>
<span> </span>
<span>Grasshopper</span>

Grasshopper said...

Correction. General Stanley was the military aide to Assistant Secretary of the Navy.

Grasshopper said...

You're correct. The Honors comment was inappropriate. My apologies

Grasshopper said...

Delta Bravo, the General was nominated for Lieutenant General. He made it known he would not accept it, and his name was pulled.
Grasshopper

LT B said...

I, for one, think the Phib-meister is pretty fair when he discusses this stuff.  Granted, some on here don't hold the gentelman in high regard.  For those that lead, if you make friends with everybody, you probably are not doing your job.  If one is honest and consistent, I think most would just be happy with that.  The idea is to wait and see what shakes out of this.  Hopefully, the IG is honest in its findings.  But, I DO agree that if the complaints were baseless and done to save the SES hides, then that should be addressed.  If one is a target of a known false claim, it is quite difficult to hold back the urge to physically assault those that slandered you.  It is REALLY difficult.

Grasshopper said...

There's a famous line in the movie "Wyatt Earp." Tell 'em I'm comin', and I'm bringin' Hell with me....

bistromathamatician@gmail.com said...

Boldon phase II

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Let's hope that General Stanley would have had the good grace to fire Captain Honors on the spot, and not four-plus years later under pressure from special interests activists and advocates. 

Spare me the lecture on flawed logic and poor taste.  You vow a day of reckoning on people who could be viewed as "whistle blowers".  Which is exactly how the person who ensured a fuss about Captain Honors was made has been treated.  Good for the goose, and all that.

Clifford Stanley does not enjoy such a favorable reputation amongst many he has commanded.   He has not impressed me very positively during my time observing him, either.  Not so, then-Majors Bailey and Gaskin, whom I have crossed paths with several times since.  Their reputations bear out their favorable impressions.  Ditto Stanley and his unfavorable reputation and impression.

Anonymous said...

What I've been told is this: P&R was/is a trainwreck (e.g. 400+ days for claims). Dr Stanley started cleaning house, and the SES/GS's revolted.

Cannot validate, but I believe it to be true based on this... Who do I trust more: Did disability processing days go up before Stanley arrived? Yes. Are the people fired respnsible for disablility processing? Yes. Who do I trust more?

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