Congress orders Pentagon to review sexual misconduct policies

Responding to increasing complaints about the Pentagon's policies regarding sexual misconduct, Congress has ordered the Defense Department to develop a comprehensive response and prevention policy, and to review how sexual assault cases are handled by the military justice system.

The $447.2 billion fiscal 2005 Defense authorization bill, which passed the House and Senate last week, requires the Pentagon to review the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Manual for Courts-Martial, and to propose changes for how sexual offenses will be addressed by March 2005. The bill is headed to President Bush for final approval.

The authorization bill requires a militarywide policy based on a report from the Task Force Report on Care for Victims of Sexual Assault by the end of the year, but Pentagon officials must first develop a single definition of sexual assault. By March 1, 2005, the five branches of the military must modify their policies to conform with the Pentagon's recommendations.

The authorization bill also extends the Defense Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies by an additional 18 months so that the panel of civilian experts and senior military personnel can examine the issue of sexual assault across the military. But that will occur after the panel completes its review of the Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., which began last week.

"This dual track approach will help keep all groups focused in order to prevent tunnel vision," said Brig. Gen. K.C. McClain, commander of the Pentagon's Joint Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response.

McClain's task force is in charge of turning the recommendations from last month's closed-door conference on handling sexual harassment and assault into Pentagon policy.

An Oct. 6 summit, involving McClain and senior Pentagon officials, was supposed to result in new Defense Department policies that would help the armed forces prevent and respond to sexual assault, but no information has been released.

Members of the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues pushed for the amendments.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., asked for the service academies task force extension and expansion and for the review on how the military justice system handles sexual assault. Reps. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., spearheaded the amendments to require an inclusive Pentagon policy for handling and preventing sexual assaults.

According to a congressional aide, if the Defense Department is not able to come up with a better means of providing aid to soldiers who have been sexually assaulted, update its definition of sexual assault, modernize the code of military justice, and create privacy provisions of victims, then the caucus will work to get Congress to rewrite the Pentagon's policy.

The Miles Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides services to victims of violence associated with the military, was quick to point out that the defense authorization bill did not include provisions for an Office of the Victims' Advocate at the Pentagon. The National Defense Appropriations Act, which was signed by the president Aug. 5, included $1.8 million for the office and $3 million for victim advocates within the military departments.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.