Bill seeks to resolve errors at Arlington

Senators have unveiled a bipartisan bill aimed at helping Arlington National Cemetery's leaders identify and resolve gravesite errors, and implement a new organizational structure.

The legislation (S. 3860), introduced on Tuesday by Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Scott Brown, R-Mass., comes in response to two June Army inspector general reports that found hundreds of mismarked and empty gravesites at Arlington. McCaskill is chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, and Brown is ranking member. They were joined by Sens. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Richard Burr, R-N.C.

During a subcommittee hearing in July, lawmakers said the problem could be worse than originally thought, with thousands not hundreds of mistakes. They vowed to follow up and ensure the errors were corrected.

The bill would require the Army secretary to report to Congress on the cemetery's ability to properly identify and locate each gravesite and to resolve any mix-ups. The secretary also would be responsible for informing Congress of progress in developing a new management and oversight structure at Arlington.

The secretary and the Government Accountability Office would oversee contract management at the cemetery and report findings to Congress. During the July hearing, John C. Metzler, former Arlington superintendent, took full responsibility for the gravesite errors and for millions of dollars wasted on a failed project to automate gravesite tracking. At the time the IG conducted its investigation, Arlington continued to rely predominantly on paper records of graves, which are more prone to human error.

In addition, the legislation would charge GAO with overseeing the cemetery's outreach to families of those buried at Arlington.

"After our July hearing, I made a promise to the American public and to the families of those brave men and women buried at Arlington that the hearing would not be the end of Congress' oversight of this problem," McCaskill said on Tuesday.

Brown added, "This bill is an important step toward ensuring that the families of service members never again will be forced to endure such devastating and emotional turmoil."

A McCaskill spokeswoman said on Wednesday there is no companion bill in the House, but there is some interest in creating one.

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

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

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

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