Defense needs to improve efforts to prevent sexual harassment, GAO says

The Defense Department must do a better job of overseeing and enforcing policies to prevent and address sexual harassment in the armed forces, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday.

GAO surveyed 583 members in all four branches of the armed services stationed across the country and overseas. Of those, 82 said they had been sexually harassed in the past year, and only four of the 82 formally reported the incident. Several reasons were given as to why they did not report the incidents, including the belief that their claim would not be taken seriously.

While Defense requires each branch of service to assess its programs annually and record specific data on complaints received, the department has not enforced this requirement in almost a decade, GAO said.

To encourage reporting, GAO recommended that Defense develop sexual harassment guidelines for when two branches of military service work together, while the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity should develop an oversight framework to monitor the department's progress and to set new goals.

Defense leadership also should create a strategy to hold senior officers accountable for promoting harassment policies and programs and have leaders regularly assess organizational health and effectiveness, GAO said.

Defense agreed with GAO's five recommendations. The department's response detailed a new initiative in development by Defense's Office of diversity Management and Equal Opportunity that would revise the Military Equal Opportunity Framework through a systemic review to increase accountability.

"The goal of the review will be to develop an overarching Department of Defense strategy of holding leaders at appropriate levels in the organization accountable for promoting, supporting and enforcing the department's sexual harassment policies and programs," Defense said.

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:

  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

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

    Download

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