Peter Vangjel, Army IG
Testifies to Congress on Arlington Cemetery Progress
February 10, 2012
Within the last two
years, Arlington National Cemetery has seen much progress in correcting
gravesite deficiencies, increasing customer service, and instituting
effective computer recordkeeping, the Army’s inspector general said here
Lt. Gen. Peter Vangjel testified at a joint House Armed Services
Committee hearing about accountability at Arlington National Cemetery.
“The IG reported 61 deficiencies in 2010, among them, a deplorable
organizational climate, archaic recordkeeping and automation systems,
uncontrolled contracting and budgeting processes and gravesite
accountability. In contrast one year later, there were no deficiencies
reported,” he said.
Vangjel added that significant progress continues to be made, noting
that “Arlington is beginning to transition from successful crisis
management to sustained excellence.”
There’s still much work left to do, he said, including complete
documentation and validation of internal oversight processes and
controls, continuation of gravesite accountability and enduring external
oversight processes to prevent past shortcomings.
Also testifying at the hearing were Executive Director of the Army
National Cemeteries Program Kathryn A. Condon; Acquisition and Sourcing
Management Director Belva Martin from the Government Accountability
Office; and Defense Capabilities and Management Director Brian Lepore,
from the GAO.
Condon, Martin and Lepore agreed with Vangjel’s assessment of progress
in addressing deficiencies at the cemetery, while acknowledging areas
that still need improvement.
Condon noted that although 212,674 gravesites had been accounted for, 18
percent were still in the process of being verified. She said the
procedure involved obtaining records going back to the Civil War and
analyzing census data, military records and even using the website
ancestory.com to match photos of deceased swith at least two verifiable
records. Condon said the goal is to provide instant Internet access to
pictures and gravesite information for family members, as well as
Other areas that Condon said will improve include the cemetery’s
contracting process. She said a senior contracting professional is in
the process of being hired to oversee the process and ensure
She said that $50 million spent in the past has been accounted for, and
that $12 million is currently being tracked and will be accounted for.
Martin explained that problems in contracting over the past two years
included inaccurate documentation, unclear wording of deliverables
resulting in services not rendered, procurement of information
technologies that were not useful and a general lack of properly
was asked his opinion on whether or not ANC should be transferred from
control of the Army to the Department of Veterans Affairs. He advised a
cost benefit analysis be conducted and cautioned that a premature change
of jurisdiction could create more problems. He recommended several years
of collaboration between the Army and the VA, so the best procedures and
systems from each can be instituted and then a determination be made.
Several congressmen expressed their deep concern with a lack of
accountability for those who mismanaged the cemetery in the past.
In response to questions of personal accountability, Vangjel said he
would keep subcommittee members informed on developments of any
forthcoming punitive actions, but explained that determination of
judicial proceedings are now in the hands of the Army’s Criminal
Investigation Division and the Department of Justice.
“We owe it to the soldiers and families and to future generations to
restore the honor to our nation’s heroes at Arlington National
Cemetery,” said Chairman Rep. Joe Wilson (S.C.), summarizing the
feelings of hearing attendees.