Thursday, July 01, 2010

Diversity Thursday

Could Diversity have been part of Fowler's problems? No, you say! Well, let's look at just a bit of the report.
41. NAVINSGEN Concern. In August/September 2008, the hosted a group of senior female Sailors and a few female officers at a Women’s Labor Day Retreat in quarters. The purpose of this 3-day event was to foster exchanges of ideas and information on issues impacting women in the Navy. During the Retreat, expended $1,613 (including $289.50 for the service of alcoholic beverages) on a combination of catered meals in quarters and restaurant meals. The Superintendent approved this event as beneficial to accomplishing the mission of USNA.

42. ASN(FM&C) Comments and Analysis. There is no evidence of any relationship between the mission of USNA and the hosting of a retreat for a few select senior female service members to discuss issues impacting women in the Navy. There is no evidence that the resolution of women’s issues and fostering diversity falls within the duties of the or that the retreat was an appropriate way of handling these duties. Moreover, a retreat with catered meals and alcohol for the attendees does not appear, based on the information provided, to be reasonably justified as necessary to carry out those functions.

43. VADM Fowler’s Written Comments.
Navy Leadership expects the Naval Academy to lead on many issues involving the advancement of women in the officer corps. The Academy has spent significant resources to be the example of how gender relations should be taught and conducted at the Academy and by extension throughout the Navy. Congressional testimony by experts credits our Sexual Assault programs to be the best among America’s universities. The funds in question here were, therefore, expended because they were necessary to carry out part of the Academy’s function to advance women in the officer corps. As one of the in our Navy, my has been very involved with women’s history month, women’s symposia, and women’s policy for many years. is often asked by the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy or the Chief of Naval Personnel to attend or lead efforts to improve the mission readiness of women in our Navy.

With the support of CNP and CNO’s special assistant for diversity, my volunteered to hold a in own home over a weekend with who volunteered to pay their own way to the event. There was no lodging cost for this event since opened home on a weekend for them to stay. Most of the attending had disappointments with the Navy, and this group of midshipmen, enlisted, and officers, shared their experiences in a relaxed environment to discuss the issues on their hearts.
The end goal was to encourage females to stay in the Navy and seek senior leadership roles in the Navy. The women left with a renewed sense of engagement. Two went on Individual Augmentation and one is negotiating to stay in the Navy and come to the Naval Academy as Senior Enlisted Leader.
44. NAVINSGEN Conclusion. We commend the and the Naval Academy for their commitment to women’s issues and this novel approach to sorting through them for the benefit of the individuals involved and the Navy; however, we are not convinced that the same result would not be achieved without these expenditures. We view the incurrence of these expenses as simply desirable, not necessary. We agree that retention is an implicit mission of every Navy leader and organization, but believe that it can be pursued without unnecessary entertainment expenses and without service of alcoholic beverages. Therefore, the use of gift funds was not justified.
Arrggghhhhh!!! Diversity is thick as fleas in this IG report. Just go to page 58 for more.
175. DOD and Navy guidance is that NAF funds are to be used exclusively for the general welfare of the beneficiary population of the NAFI, in this case the Brigade of Midshipmen and the active duty population of USNA. NAF funds are not authorized to be used for “programs and initiatives that support the overall mission of the Naval Academy,” as the Superintendent asserted [after the fact] in his NAF policy memorandum of February 2009. That assertion is born of the misperception that DOD and Navy guidance on such expenditures does not apply to USNA. Recruiting is an authorized function of USNA and integral to its mission, but it is not something that can be categorized as being for the general welfare of the Brigade of Midshipmen and the active duty population of USNA. Therefore, NAF funds may not be spent on recruiting.
176. While the underlying rationale for the Destiny contract was to provide products that would improve recruiting of minorities in order to meet CNO diversity goals, there is a NAF connection in that one of the Destiny products was also a replacement video for the one being shown at the Visitor’s Center, a NAF operation. Therefore, NAF funds reasonably could be expended for that video, but not for other video products exclusively classified as recruiting tools, such as the TV spots. To the extent that NAF funds were expended for these recruiting products, they were misspent, in violation of DOD and Navy NAF policy. The amount of NAF funds expended on the project overall was $3,694,952; however, we did not attempt to determine what portion of that total represented the amount misspent, as that would require an extensive cost-accounting audit of the contract.

Improper Advance Payments
177. Mr. Parsons and had no authority to pay Destiny more than $1 million in advance of the execution of a contract between the Government and Destiny for video production services. Doing so put the Government at risk and without written contractual recourse, should Destiny have failed to deliver. Per 31 USC § 1501, the recording of a Government obligation requires a valid contract. Likewise, disbursements to vendors require contracts, invoices, and certifications, and they are not made unless justified by those underlying documentary requirements. In this case, Mr. Parsons simply ordered up the payments via e-mail, and made the payments, because Mr. Parsons told him to and because he knew they were in support of something that was a very high priority with the Superintendent. By making these improper payments, they violated 31 USC § 1501, because there was no valid contract to obligate the Government. As well, they violated the basic obligation of public service in that they failed to “protect and conserve Federal property [NAF funds]” and misused those funds “for other than authorized activities.” [5 CFR § 2635.101(b)(9)]

Unauthorized Commitments
178. Allowing Destiny to come aboard USNA and film for two weeks without benefit of a valid contract created an unauthorized commitment, which is prohibited by DOD and Navy NAF contracting regulations and by the Standards of Ethical Conduct [5 CFR § 2635.101(b)(6)]. Resolution of such violations requires issuance of a valid contract, if justified by a ratification process. In this instance, a contract was issued, but without benefit of having been justified by a formal ratification process. Again, as with the advance payments, the Government was placed at risk, with no written contractual recourse. As well, there is some question as to whether the Government entered into a “valid contract” with Destiny, as no person authorized to bind the Government contractually in the amount of the contract ever signed an agreement with Destiny.

179. When Mr. Parsons negotiated a $980,000 addition to the Destiny contract and authorized Destiny to do the work without benefit of a valid contract modification, that, too, was an unauthorized commitment. In this instance, there was no ratification process and no contract modification was ever issued. Yet, when Mr. Parsons sent e-mails directing payments to Destiny, made those payments, too, without benefit of a valid contract modification. These payments were also made in violation of 31 USC § 1501, as no valid contract modification existed to obligate the Government.

Other Contract Shortcomings
180. USNA’s NAF contracting function is a seat-of-the-pants operation, and Mr. Parsons’ and warrants, if they had them, should be revoked. No one will ever know if the cost of the Destiny contract was reasonable, because the “contracting officer” made no effort to make that determination. He signed the contract because Mr. Parsons told him to sign it. He didn’t ensure a legal review, because Mr. Parsons told him the JAG said it was good to go. The contract that was signed by . was a commercial contract, which did not incorporate any standard Government clauses, as DOD and Navy NAF procurement policy require for NAF contracts. At the time he signed the contract, procurement authority was limited to contracts of $25,000 or less. When Mr. Parsons separately negotiated an additional $980,000 of work for Destiny, the contract was never modified to incorporate those requirements, yet also made those payments.
While I am at it, being that all the sports obsessed football-uber-alles guys are running up and down the blogosphere with foam-flecked emotional diatribes that Fowler's problems had nothing to do with football .... I have decided to return fire.

With facts. From the IG report.

First, our buddy from the WaPo, Dan de Vies give a good Executive Summary,
It didn't occur to me until I interviewed a 2010 academy graduate late Tuesday that many of the questionable (or merely questioned) expenses involved football.
Here are a few of the many passages in the report that reference football:

". . . the complainant alleged that senior USNA staff members improperly received large numbers of complimentary tickets to home football games for their personal use . . . "

" . . . At home football games, USNA hosted up to 100 Sailors and Marines, each of whom received an emblematic ball cap, which ranged in price from $9.95 to $15.95 . . . "

" . . . The expenditure of $157,000 to purchase an 18-wheel tractor trailer truck for USNA's football team . . . "

" . . . Annual expenditures of $400,000 or more for USNA sponsored Tailgate events at football bowl games over the past six years . . . "

The academy's defense rests, in part, on the notion that the football program a) is beloved and b) generating considerable revenue.

(Little-known fact: a lot of big football programs lose money.)

Many of the expenses were deemed appropriate by naval investigators, who stopped short of judging whether they were excessive. Others, including many of the transactions involving the off-the-books account, were found to be "extravagant and wasteful."

The midshipman who called me would not speak for attribution, because he remains attached to the academy. He said he and his classmates enjoyed the lavish tailgate parties but came to realize "that a lot of money was being spent on the football team."

He said the Mids were particularly rankled by reports of annual steak dinners for the team, a privilege not shared by the rest of the brigade.

"When people saw extravagant spending for a special group, as opposed to the brigade as a whole, we started asking questions," he said. "We'd like to have steak dinners, too."
Here are some of the un-edited bits quoted without commentary - just a small part. Do a search of the report for "football" and you will be flooded. I think this is enough though. If you need more, here it is.
129. Given that the NAF Contingency Fund was unauthorized and improper, all of the expenditures of funds deposited to the account were also improper on their face. Further, notwithstanding the arguments of Messrs. Parsons and to the contrary, we do not agree that all of those expenditures legitimately could have been paid with NAF from NABSD’s normal operating accounts. Many would have been classified as misuses of NAF, and others, even if technically justifiable, were extravagant and wasteful. The primary argument against them is they are contrary to DOD and Navy NAF policy established pursuant to 10 USC § 2783 in that they were for the benefit of individuals or groups (e.g., NABSD employees, Deputy for Management and other senior USNA personnel, NAAA employees, football coaches’ wives and families, NAGA members, etc.), rather than for the general benefit of the beneficiary population of NABSD’s mission, the Brigade of Midshipmen and the active duty population of USNA.

The relationship between the NAAA and USNA makes it difficult to maintain the proper arms-length relationship that is required between a Government entity and a private, non-Federal entity. In the matter of the handling of sponsorship funds raised by NAAA, the overarching Navy guidance on NAF sponsorship funds was ignored. For NABSD to have accepted the NAAA payments as sponsorship funds directly, written agreements, legal reviews, appropriate disclaimers, etc., were required. None of those requirements, however, were met. Therefore, the NAAA payments should have been treated as gifts to the Navy, and given the size of each check, they should have been processed for acceptance by the Undersecretary of the Navy.

The impropriety of the NAAA payments was further compounded when their intended purpose, i.e., the offsetting of expenses incurred by NABSD for putting on Midshipmen Tailgates at bowl games, was ignored and they were diverted to the many other uses documented above in the recitation of the facts of this allegation. Add to this a clear violation of the Miscellaneous Receipts statute, which occurred when Government funds in the form of the NAAA payments were deposited in a bank (the NFCU) and spent at the direction of , generally with the knowledge and approval of Mr. Parsons. While we do not question that these individuals always had what they believed were the best interests of the Navy, USNA, and NABSD and its employees in mind, they nonetheless acted in a reckless and irresponsible manner.
Who warned you about the dangers of the Diversity Industry and D1 Football OCD? It can cost you more than just your good name.
Whether Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler, a target of a federal investigation into an improper slush fund, can retire with all three stars on his collar remains to be seen, the Navy's chief spokesman said yesterday.

Fowler is slated to step down in early September, and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is to review his case and "determine grade" of retirement, said Rear Adm. Denny Moynihan, the Navy's top public affairs officer.
You're welcome.
UPDATE: You can find Professor Bruce Fleming's latest thoughts via an interview he did at WYPR here.


Matt Hawks said...

Where was his JAG?  His senior Chop?  His comptroller? Was anyone telling him he was going out on thin ice?  Were they silent (or complicit), or ignored?  Understand, he will pay the price as the CO, but didn't he have anyone telling him how to stay within the lane dividers?

CDR Salamander said...

Fear makes cowards of us all.  How many at USNA are willing to get between Fowler and the Diversity Industry .... or Fowler and D1 football?  They would have been professionally destroyed.

Well, I think we now know.  0 ... except for those who did what they had to do and started/contributed to the IG.

LT B said...

NAAA is VERY powerful on the yard.  One of my colleagues had to change a biology field trip for one of our Marine bio courses to accomodate the Lacrosse team's practice schedule.  I was involved in an investigation and the investigating officer (a commander) and I were chatting and he said the NAAA is the 800 lb gorilla in the room that nobody wants to address.  It also cracks me up when the boosters say, "other schools do it."  Uh, yeah, so, the academy's selling point is they're just like every other school? 

Salty Gator said...


While I'm with you on 99% of this, I think it is worthwhile to defend D1 Football for other institutions that are not service academies.  In many cases, D1 Football pays for all your "Title 9" sports such as women's lacrosse, women's field hockey.

CDR Salamander said...

Fair ... this is about a school of the size and mission of USNA tying itself in knots and undermining its core values for a reason of immature vanity.

Spock said...

More grist for the diversity mill... 

The redacted report is available from the Capital (

Did you notice how several pronouns are redacted in the 'Findings of Fact' section (page 4) starting with #8?
Yet under 'The Superintendent’s Financial Advisors' on page 10, nobody bothered to redact 'his' and he' when referring to a redacted staff member's name.


By the way, they forgot to redact one of the pesky gender-identifying pronouns under VADM Fowler's written statements (see 4.c on page 9 of the PDF).

Curtis said...

It looks like the major problem with this Contingency Fund is that it was an off-book unauthorized fund that the JAG, CHOP and Comptroller probably didn't even know existed and thus had zero oversight.

MR T's Haircut said...

Where can I get my free ballcap?

Bull Snipe said...

Pundits quoting pundits.  Never a good thing.

Thank you for the link.  110 pages, 263 numbered paragraphs.  The word football appears 83 times.  The word tailgate 59 times. (Ain't Google great!) Since they often are together in the same paragraph, contrary to De Vies, I don't think that makes "many".  The citations mentioned above are all in para 73, page 27.  After exposition, this is followed by para 77:  Our investigation found a number of the allegations in this case concerning questionable expenditure of NAF funds lacked merit and did not involve any issues of misconduct. Therefore, in order to shorten the length of this report, our findings for those allegations are summarized in the following paragraphs."

Summarizing the summary:  Truck--OK.  Plane--OK.  Tailgate parties--OK.

You and De Vies miss the big flick.  USNA horribly mismanaged, as it turns out, two non-appropriated funds.  There were improper things done for promoted sailors.  Where's your outrage?  There were improper things done for the average mid.  Where's your rant?

And NOWHERE is there any allegation of personal enhancement, gain, or enrichment.  Every ill-considered act is not dishonest, and every dishonest act is not ill-considered.

KARMA said...

You guys are missing the big picture. Read the report twice and I found a significant amount of criminal activity in addition to the slush fund. Read what  Parsons' did again. He did benefit from his position. He took trips on a govt contractors dime. He told the Supply Officer to sign a contract worth in excess of 2 Million bucks and the SUPPO did it. (NOT VERY SMART)People go to jail for this kinda stuff. PEOPLE WAKE UP!! We need to call our congressman. PLEASE READ IT AGAIN!!!    

DeltaBravo said...

Why does the USNA NEED to have a sexual assault program?  That one annoys me.  They shouldn't be letting predators in.   And the rules for the little boys and girls should be so strictly enforced that only those wishing to throw away their future would even think of putting themselves in dubious circumstances.  That goes for both the boys and the girls.


Okay... back to your discussion about the corrupting influence of football.

Redeye80 said...


I wish they were not needed.  But unfortunately, we can seem to get our future leaders to behave themselves.  We still have a hard time getting the point across in the fleet as well.

I guess the simple concept of "no means no" is lost.

Andrewdb said...

I need a life - I read this thing last night.

Pages 2-25 cover really, really basic Standards of Conduct stuff that anyone who has any sort of training on this should know.

The key stuff is in Para. 2 on page 1 - the GAO says that gifts become public funds and the same rules for spending them apply as for appropriated funds.  I am absolutely flabergasted that the guy who was Dir. of Fin. for 10 years (about the time the Foundation has been in existance?) says he didn't know that. 

Paragraph 10 talks about problems with the gift giving and spending, but that the records are so poor they can't prove it.

I also find it interesting that they found it "necessary" (the magic word, as opposed to "desirable") to buy that semi-truck "after observing a truck operated by the Air Force Academy" (Para 78). Yes, the IG ultimately found the truck was OK.

The Contingency Fund violated the Miscellaneous Receipts statutue (Para. 95 and others) and was not even known to the auditors.  I love how they cite all the statutes, and then use Merriam-Webster to define "slush fund."  Use of NAF is restricted to the benefit of the Brigade, not any purpose to further the mission of the USNA.  My gosh, I could go on. 

The OSD SOCO website has a list of scalps - one of their recent actions they appear very proud of was requiring a LTC to resign for other than honorable (instead of a CM) because he failed to report a $400 gift of Ballentines scotch. This may relate to BradXT and Cdore-14's comments about a separate standard for FOs.

I am amazed they didn't throw the book at the Dir. of Fin.

As I've said before, my experience is on the land side, but I thought the Sea Services usually took a rather strict liability view of a Commander's responsibilities - if something happens on his watch, saying "I didn't know it was wrong" is now acceptable? I guess ignorance of the law is now an excuse?

I understand there are a lot of rules - but this isn't some combat mission - we are talking about a Schoolhouse, and the stuff the rules are being "bent" (well, some of them just broken) for is (1) keeping the coach's families happy so the football program is strong, and (2) meeting diversity goals.

Read the whole thing.  This is so much worse than the press reports make it sound.

Andrewdb said...

And another thing - do read VADM Fowler's responses to the various allegations.  I didn't see much of any taking personal responsibility for what he did or omitted to do ("I relied on my trusted advisors")! 

Makes me want to take a shower.

usna21412 said...

Geez, as a lowly Gov't Commercial Purchase Cardholder, let alone my small unit's APC, I had to learn about that $25K cap which, when exceeded, requires a bid contract.  It's truly insane that the comptroller and any suppo didn't know that.  Of course NAF must be spent to the benefit of all.  Isn't that also a no-brainer?  It's like MWR funds distributed to naval station tenants.  That MWR money my sqdn received had to be spent to the benefit of all.  These simple rules are learned by non-Suppo's in the JO ranks.  For the 3-Star to flaunt them, to pay for coaches' family dinners, to pay for USNA recruiting videos to the tune of $millions, is absolutely criminal.  Yes, spending money on a football / recruiting truck is fine, buying a static display for Dahlgren is fine, hosting tailgate parties for midn at bowl games is fine, but you don't spend NAF on them.  You go through proper funding channels.  Common sense to a guy who held a GCPC as a little 'ole LT.

xformed said...

Some days, it should have been obvious..."And how did that get funded?" sort of Duh! moment for the CHOP, at least, and anyone in the logistics train, where money had to match tasking.  That may be they hid it behind magic accting data.

That much money, even if no one was sworn to secrecy, must have been noticed....

xformed said...

You?  From your mama!

usna21412 said...

"I didn't know it was wrong" sure sounds similar to ex-midn Curry's excuse for smoking dope ... "I didn't know what I was smoking."  And of course, the Supt believed him.  At least the Supt is consistent:  same rules for him as his subordinates.  You know, the pot thing happened after the November IG report arrived on his desk.  Perhaps he felt he had to believe Curry because he intended to use the same excuse himself.  You know, hypocrisy and all.

xformed said...

More of the DTAO30 - The Sequel:  "If it feels good do it!"...and EVERYONE knows, doing it feels good, so....and EVERYONE knows abstinance doesn't work....

Southern Air Pirate said...

That sounds like nearly all of the other alumni assoications or Football/Basketball boosters in the rest of the NCAA. IF the school president and the AD like thier jobs they won't insult them.

Southern Air Pirate said...

I wonder if we could take the IG's report strip out everything about USNA and compared it to any of the other NCAA violations investigations about football/basketball programs you could see the same trends and probably some of the same verbage

Andrewdb said...

SAP - the difference is that the NCAA stuff usually seems to involve $ going to the players or their families.  I didn't see anything of that sort in here.

Andrewdb said...

Most NCAA schools aren't governed by the Joint Ethics Regulations that forbid (1) seekings gifts without the prior written permission of the SECNAV, and (2) using your government position to fundraise for a private org. (even a 501(c)(3) charity).

Bull Snipe said...

Reads like much more than football, doesn't it?

Andrewdb said...

No allegations of personal benefit?  What about that SUV, owned by the defense contracting company and parked at the Dir of Fin.'s house for several years (but he only used it monthly to keep it running, or to drive the executive of the co. around when he visited).  They found that was an improper gift to a government employee that was available for his personal use. 

For that and a lot more he got a week without pay?

Andrewdb said...

There is a LOT about football (diverting NAF funds from the proper use for the benefit of the Brigade, to subsidize the tailgates for the coaches' families to keep the good coaches around after the head coach left, to name but one), but yes, there is also a lot more.

Bull Snipe said...

Missed that one.  Hope Sal is on the case to find out who the fat cat is.

Bull Snipe said...

Seems to me in reading it that Fowler could not separate the good of the institution from the good of the troops.  And Parsons didn't help.  I share your poor opinion of Parsons.  Now go convince Sal who the miscreant truly is.

Andrewdb said...

Its the same guy who paid for Parson's vacations, and put up the $100,000 (!!!) for wine at the Sup's house.

C-dore 14 said...

MTH, Not me...I want one of those jackets. ;)

Anonymous said...

The first third of the report deals with diversity upon diversity.  And it all starts with someone complaining that the Sup put his CMC (female, black) into a house on the parade field (O-6 housing) and how she subsequently hosted party after paraty.  Then read paragraph after paragraph as to how she then spent $112k and change for predominantly diversity events in just one year.

C-dore 14 said...

What I liked was the "...he's eccentric so we can't treat him like other donors..." defense.

C-dore 14 said...

Spock, They weren't so thorough.  You can figure it out.  I'm also guessing that the CMC was also one of the big offenders with the misuse of emblematics here.  Can't think of anyone else who'd need a "command" coin with an E-9 insignia on it. 

C-dore 14 said...

That was my conclusion.

Bull Snipe said...

Ooooo....missed that connection, too.

usna21412 said...

She handed out coins and ballcaps like they were candy.  All the time.  Everywhere.  She didn't hide it, nor was there any intent to deceive.  Anyone who saw her at social or public events saw her do this.  She used them to advertise, to recruit, to spread the good cheer of USNA.

MR T's Haircut said...

Hey if the party wont quit, you have to acquit!

XBradTC said...

 Bull, if your point is merely that D1 football isn't the root of all evil at USNA, then that's a valid and true point. 

But you haven't provided any evidence that the inclusion of a D1 team enhances the training and education of MIDN at USNA. 

MR T's Haircut said...

Meanwhile commands count challenge coins to give to Sailors of the Year.....

MR T's Haircut said...

C-dore, I'll arm wrestle you for one...

CDR Salamander said...

Please, don't hold back your wisdom.  Ed'u'mah'cate me.

sid said...




Keep Drinkin'!!!!

(until the cops show anyway)


DeltaBravo said...

Or maybe it's a result of the "special flower" syndrome where the rules apply to some more than others.  "No" means "no," and "F" means "You're not playing till the grades are up" and "generally accepted accounting procedures will apply to you too" apply to some but not others.

Bull Snipe said...

Brad -

I connect the dots like this:

D1 success => increased name recognition
Increased name recognition => increased applications
Increased applications => increased selectivity
Increased selectivity => higher input
Higher input => higher output

Cases in point:  Boise State and George Mason.  It's an argument for another blog about whether any addmissions process can truly recognise its higher input.  When I sat on Academy or ROTC screening boards, I cared about 3 things, in ascending order:  if the applicant was elected captain of a sports team, was an Eagle scout, or was trusted to open or close the store during summer employment.  That was enough to get my vote, assuming all other requirements are met.

In that same earlier life, I served on an academic committee. The executive secretary of the committee was an Ivy League doctoral candidate in education.  Her disertation topic, in plain speak, was:  Why do kids choose the colleges they choose?  She was depressed.  She had no way of telling why.  I could only commiserate.  Long ago I had applied to Rutgers.  Only because I liked the sound of the name!

Bull Snipe said...

Parsons, the 10-year served SES equivalent, who let his 3-year served boss down.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

No, no, Phib. 

FATIGUE makes cowards of us all.  Ironically, a Lombardi quote. 

Fear is what makes the brave so special, as they are afraid and continue to function.

C-dore 14 said...

This was not the document to read on a gray and drizzly Puget Sound morning.  Had to put on my Gore-tex and go for a run to get in a better mood.  There's so much to comment on here but I'll stick to just a couple of points.

The IG Report confirmed my initial conclusion that the situation is more about integrity, accountability, and command climate than it is about football, although the desire of the Academy's leadership to have a successful Div 1 football program played a large role it it.  Although each individual action was taken with the best intentions (hell is paved with them) things got out of control.  Andrewdb correctly assesses this vicious cycle: the athletic program is used to attract minority midshipmen (that started in my day), eventually they attract coaches who make the program successful which, in turn, attracts donors.  The reduction of appropriated funds for other sports and midshipman activities leads to a reliance on these funds hence the need to maintain a successful program becomes an end unto itself.  All the while there are large amounts of unregulated funds floating around that can have a corrupting influence on those who come in contact with them.

I would have expected that a senior, nuclear trained officer like VADM Fowler to pay more attention to detail on the administration of these funds and the actions of his principal subordinates.  Anyone who has had command, especially at the O-6 level and above knows how tight the Navy is about conflict of interest, awarding of contracts and acceptance of gifts.  I surprised that he didn't turn to Mr. Parsons and ask "Where are the funds from the Meinecke Car Care Bowl going?"  Wasn't he concerned about where all that really good wine at the Supe's Quarters was coming from?  His comments about the "complexities" of USNA lead me to believe that he believed that he was in an exceptional situation and the usual rules didn't apply.

The most telling comment was that by the Mid in Dan de Vies' column.  Back in my day nobody would begrudge anyone, whether a member of the football team, the Masqueraders, or the "Lucky Bag" staff; a steak dinner or some special privilege.  Apparently the guys on the football team have used up their quota of good deals with some of the fellow Mids.

If I were Supe I'd be asking Mr. Parsons for his resignation and look for a non-alum as a replacement.  I'd also be looking for a Marine Corps Sergeant Major (preferably with a couple of combat decorations) to be my senior enlisted advisor.

C-dore 14 said...

Just make sure that the wines are really good. ;)

C-dore 14 said...

You know, when I read the part about NAF funds being used for "operational purposes" the first thing that came to mind was LCDR Marc Arnheiter (USNA '52) using his ship's MWR Fund (Welfare and Rec Fund in those days) to buy the speedboat that he mounted a .30 cal MG on and used to chase the VC.

Andrewdb said...

The Challenge Coins made an appearance in this report too!  There isn't much that didn't, really.  As if the rules are some big mystery.  Too depressing.

Andrewdb said...

And the rules are _absolutely_ clear that coins purchased with appropriated funds are only for recognition and awards; if everyone gets one it is NOT an award!

C-dore 14 said...

Andrewdb, In my time it was a bit more liberal as to whom we could hand them out to but, since they were purchased with appropriated funds only the BG Commander and the COS could do so.

XBradTC said...

<span>D1 success => increased name recognition  
Increased name recognition => increased applications  
Increased applications => increased selectivity  
Increased selectivity => higher input  
Higher input => higher output  

The USNA doesn't have some of the issues facing Boise State. For instance, pretty much every high school student has heard of USNA at one point or another. And it isn't like slots are going begging at USNA. There is a high school guidance counselor in America that wouldn't like to list a bullet point on their resume that they helped a kid get into a service academy. Maybe not as good as Stanford, but still a nice point. 

Your "bellringers" on screening are good indications. Indeed, 25 years ago, that was the kind of thing USNA was telling people to put on their application. They were telling whole student bodies. In fact, they had a middie come and address our entire Jr. High student body so we would be aware of that sort of thing. 

My point is that a D1 team may attract a wider pool of applicants, but they may not be any better. Indeed, there's an argument to be made that with a smaller, more academically inclined pool, the admissions screening can spend more time per applicant, and achieve better results. Quantity has a quality all its own, but quantity doesn't always lead to quality.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

<span>One thing stood out like a sore thumb.  What the HELL is this crap?: 
"<span>Most of the attending had disappointments with the Navy, and this group of midshipmen, enlisted, and officers, shared their experiences in a relaxed environment to discuss the issues on their hearts."</span> 
Since when do Officers, Enlisted, and Middies all "share their disappointments" or the "issues on their hearts"? 
And we wonder why McChrystal had such a disturbingly and incorrectly familiar relationship with his staff?</span>

Southern Air Pirate said...

Okay so Canoe U, West Point, and the AFA all get high viz views from being on ABC/ESPN every Saturday during football season. So what a High Schooler sees success on the football field (or any sports field) as a way to have a successful life? I don't think so. The USCG Academy in New London competes in DivIII and they don't have any problems with filling seats. They don't get any of thier viz from being on sports TV or being featured in SI/ESPN/other Print Sports Media. They have high quality going in and high quality going out.  Why does any of the other three services have to be un-incorperated D1 schools?

Curtis said...

I'm sorry sir.  Fowler was/is a disagreeable shitty leader.  He proved that over and over again.

When it comes to invisisble funds that he doesn't have any knowlege of or expects that a competent subordinate is providing oversight, doesn't that come close to accusing COMPACFLT for the uttter incompetence of a Cruiser CO who puts Port Royal on a reef during a small boat transfer causing roughly 1000 million in damages?  hmmm.?  One of COMPACFLT'S subordinates screwed up by the numbers under his close personal scrutiny or that of his staff that were in place to evaluate that loser.  Did cincpacflt get sacked/blamed?  Did MIDGRUPAC?  Did C3F?  Some admiral most assuredly certified that those cretins were certified to get underway.  In writing.  Did he get sacked?  Some Commodore did too.....Did he get sacked?

What about the morons that certified our idiot submarines that lunged out of the sea to take down a Japanese fishing/school ship?  Reduced in rank, retired?  I think not.  Or how about the Admiral that blessed those freaking idiots in the sub that ran into our own amphib in the SOH.

We're talking 3 star here.  I flew with a 3 star flt commader someplace as a briefer just after some jackass cruiser rammed the replacement CVN up the ass which was going to dent the hell out of the 1.0 if we let the Group leave early.  I'm not even sure the idiots were relieved of command.  Was that his fault?  The 2nd Fleet Commander's Fault?

Fowler was the dismalist leader since the previous leader at USNA.  I know a really good FTM1 that could lead that place better.  He was the one that answered right up to DESRON 5 at crew inspection back the day before Challenger blew up and told the commodore that the SLF on his hardhat stood for "shiftless lazy fuck" sir.  He knew crappy leadership when he saw it and didn't hold his breath when asked about it.  It was funny, our SLF bowling team lasted for the previous 7 months and nobody else ever asked what SLF stood for.

It was a slush fund!  I think a guy of near my peer group had a right to expect that the auditors and comptrollers and JAGS and chops were all doing their jobs even if some of them were call girls assigned to his staff by PERS.  Fowler's leadership was contemptible and worthless but crap like this doesn't float in the toilet bowl we know of as USNA.

DeltaBravo said...

Did they serve expensive cheese with that whine?

DeltaBravo said...

They should have invited this guy to listen in on their heart to heart talks....

Bull Snipe said...

Brad -

The "picking process" debate is endless.  See any discussion about the validity of the SATs bearing on college performance.  I'd have to think that the larger the pool, the larger the number picked by whatever criteria are used.  My ROTC experience was at a selective school and at a less selective school.  The differences between the students was noticible.  But I was OK with that because as well as the areonautical engineer, the USN needs the all-around guy who can land that plane on a heaving deck.

DeltaBravo said...

Hey, don't knock George Mason!  Or its alumni...  :-P

Bull Snipe said...

The Coast Guard Academy has it own problems:

"The academy has been criticized for its lack of racial and ethnic diversity, with some in Congress attempting to bring the admissions process in line with the other service academies to increase diversity. ...

"Instead, the academy is spending more to advertise, recruit and host educators and minority students on campus. The academy is also sending more students to preparatory school to meet the academy's requirements."

Maybe they should play D2.

Bull Snipe said...

Wasn't a knock.  I went out and bought two GM tee-shirts at Reagan National on the way home just because the story was so neat.

Curtis said...

xformed et al,

Mission Accomplished!  Just who do you imagine at 4 and 3 and 2 star Command level wonders, "how did that get funded?" Well a number of the 4, 3 and 2 stars did wonder and decided to increase the expense 10 fold.

remarkable really.

C-dore 14 said...

Curtis, Maybe I was too subtle here.  As Superintendent, VADM Fowler bears full responsibility for all elements of this situation and should be held accountable.  I've commented on his poor leadership in a previous post.

Curtis said...

Yes,  He does.

Do you feel exactly that same way about the ratbag leadership in Hawaii that put Port Royal on a reef for a small boat transfer?

When Truman got rear ended who got sacked.....was it the CRUDESGRU commander or the CVBG commander or the CO of Truman or the CO of the supermoronic cruiser? Did they all bear the same fault for failures of leadeship and leaning too hard on the fisque?

Was the SUBRON/SUBGRU CDR sacked when that fool ran up the ass of the Amphib in the SOH?

I don't have any respect for the guy but I have one standard, not any double standard.  Sack every single person in the $ side because they had a fidicuary duty to advise the VADM on the law, regulation and the rules that were totally NOT his expertise.  He was given the job, supposedly because he knew about leadership and war at sea and stuff like that.  He wasn't the CO at Athens.  He had a right to expect his subordinates to know and follow the regs.  He wasn't a comptroller, a CHOP, a JAG.

He was rotten to the core but not a thief, not the kind of guy that established a slush fund.  Crappy little rats did that and as I said with my experience on a Flagship, nothing the mess did was within the CO's perview or visibility unless the Audit Board found that I or mine were ripping off the mess fund or the Post Office at which point doom would have instantly followed.  I could know this because one of my other minor colateral duties was, legal officer, Postal Officer, Auxiliary Officer, Voting Officer, and Mess Treasurer.

Captain Julian was not a member of the mess.  Our accounts were invisible to him.  The XO was President of the Mess.  The CO was part of the Flag Mess.

This, you understand was working on LaSalle for CAPT Franklin D. Julian.  A great Captain!

I also worked for Paul Stanton at NAVCENT.  fun times.


Grandpa Bluewater said...


Lay off the crews of ships involved in avoidable casualties. You go far to far, sir.

I agree that senior officers face far less hazard for poor performance of duty, and that increased accountability for ISIC's is overdue.

Individual officers and enlisted watchstanders may rate being used as poor examples if lack of skill or poor judgement contributed to the casualty. They are not usually idiots, frequently overtired, overtaxed, undermanned, and undertrained. Sometimes stupid, yes.  Usually, no.

Virtually without exception, the bravery, dedication and skill of the troops were what saved the day when damage threatened loss of the ship, and let those whose errors were the precipitate cause of the casualty survive to find heartbreak and discharge or retirement, in lieu of a watery grave.

You want to go after those who endanger their subordinates through neglect or wrongheadedness, you'll find me shoulder to shoulder with you.

You go after whitehats full of fidelity, zeal, and obedience, John and Jane Gob, the average sailor, it's going to be nose to nose.  Mine has a mohr hardness of 10. You?

Metaphorically speaking of course (noticing Phib reaching for the delete key out the corner of my mind's eye...)

That said, "always gripe up" is the rule I respect, not all hands pity parties.

Best/ Gramps

Curtis said...

I have to say, we were reliable.  We would show up for the the intercollegiate races and stack beer bottles on the pilings as we closed on on the Crown Center...since there was no beer drinking allowed there.  You could count on it.

Curtis said...

Those guys don't really get it.

Arbitrary $ limits set on the gifts that one may receive for service to the country......because they can only be bribes, the kind that a congressman could shove $90,000 into his freezer for and then wait 75 years for the Congressiona Ethics crime substantiaton board to ignore.

Curtis said...

They recruit for the alpha males.

That's pure leadership.

They recuit for the Alpha females.

Have you any idea at all what happens at the late teen level between alpha males and alpha females?  In some places it might be called breeding.  Fail to measure up at 20 year old level within the can see it in nature.

It didn't use to happen all that much.

Curtis said...

its like expecting him to have memorized the dfar, not his job.

C-dore 14 said...

Curtis, At the risk of "spinning you up" I'm going to say that you're comparing apples and oranges with both of your analogies to the Wardroom Mess Fund and the three accidents.  As the investigation states, the monies in the "slush fund" should have been deposited in funds equivalent to a ship's MWR account, which is the CO's/Commander's responsibility.  Moreover, to follow on with your comment about the wardroom mess, although the CO may not be a member, he is responsible for ensuring that the fund is audited.  I wasn't a member of my ship's CPO mess but I was expected to ensure it was audited and the funds accounted for.

I only know the details of two of the accidents that you're referring to.  IN general, Navy Regulations is quite specific about the CO's autonomy and his unique responsibility when it comes to the safe navigation of his ship.  A superior cannot assume that responsibility without relieving the CO nor can the orders of a superior be used as a defense (the court martial following the Honda Point groundings of 1923 being the case in point).  In the case of PORT ROYAL, the grounding was the result of poor navigation and readiness on the part of the ship's crew and errors in judgement by the CO.  His chain of command should have been held accountable to the degree that they pressured him to get underway before he was ready, failed to conduct a crew certification (if required), or ignored his requests for material support, training, or other assistance.

In the case of the CVN/CG collision (which I believe is TR/LEYTE GULF) having been Sea Combat Commander (SCC) for two CVBGs and COS of a third I have a unique perspective.  In my opinion, the fault lies with the two COs as each is responsible for the safe navigation of his ship.  Moreover, the CVN's CO, not the BG CDR or SCC, is responsible for ship's safety within 16 NM of the CVN.  There are tactical and practical reasons for doing this that I won't get into here.  Again, I would hold the BG CDR and the SCC accountable if their orders led to this situation or if they saw the situation developing and failed to take action.

Finally, I don't believe that I absolved anyone in the Naval Academy situation just because I feel that VADM Fowler bears responsibility (c'mon, he knew the money was coming in, he saw and even encouraged the spending of it and you mean to tell me that he wasn't curious about how it was being accounted don't need to be a CPA to be curious).  I think all of these guys should swing.

C-dore 14 said...

DB, I hadn't seen this before so I just sprayed coffee all over the computer screen.  My son-in-law, the Gunny, will enjoy this.

Andrewdb said...

After 23 years, Prof. Flemming thinks the USNA is about "Duty, Honor, Country"? 

I would have throught it would be West Point, and USNA was all about "Honor, Courage, Commitment."

C-dore 14 said...

Andrew, You're correct although, ironically, during my Plebe Summer at USNA we were required to sound off "Duty, Honor, Country, Sir!" when entering our summer squad leaders' room.  

BootGum said...

I've questioned half a dozen enlisted personnel attached to USNA and asked them if they ever recevied perks, services or any special morale building events like enlisted holiday parties, etc.  They all responded they received nothing. When I asked them what they thought of the statements made that the money spent was spent to benefit the enlisted, most replied, "That's a lie". 

UltimaRatioRegis said...


You liked yourself!  The Catholic Nuns would tell you that will make you blind!

BootGum said...

Good thing, I'm not a Catholic.  : )

Anonymous said...

What Parsons did was clearly criminal activity.  All Navy procurement training forbids doing what he did.  The training even states that a prison term may be levied.  Why is he still collecting a pay check?

 Additionally, why hasn't anyone investigated how he got his job at USNA?  I'll tell you how he got it, he was there as a Navy Captain and created a civilian position.  He was in uniform on Friday and showed up on Monday in the very same job he created.  He began his first days as a civilian while on terminal leave and has been there ever since.  His first day as a civilian at USNA raised eyebrows about the potential of unethical conduct and apparently it hasn't stopped.

 Meanwhile there are critical programs at USNA which are  underfunded not to mention a long term hiring freeze in the engineering building, a hiring freeze which Mr. Parsons won't lift.

SNAnonymous said...

<span>The outgoing Supe certainly has done more than I could have possibly expected to discredit the reputation of such a fine institution of our country.  I simply cannot believe that he is just being let off the hook this easily.  Being the Supe at USNA has long been considered a sundown tour for a Flag; a point needs to be made that what he did was wrong (and possibly criminal).  
On the subject of Professor Fleming, I happen to agree with a lot of what he has to say is wrong with the Academy even though his perspective is somewhat narrow-minded and naieve.  What I do not agree with is the method by which he airs his grievances.  I think he could be a much more effective instrument of change by offering to testify before whichever Congressional committees are responsible for the administration of the Academy as opposed to publicly bashing the school via letter to the editor, etc.  His methodology only serves to portray USNA in a negative light and does nothing to improve the reputation or affect change.</span>

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