The Air Force’s Scandal That Won’t Stop Spreading

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James Cliff Owen/AP

Ninety-two members of the nuclear-missile crew are being tied to a growing cheating scandal, Air Force officials said Thursday; that is nearly half of the intercontinental ballistic missile crew at the Montana base in question.

Officials said earlier this month that 34 officers at the Malmstrom Air Force Base were being tied to alleged cheating on a monthly proficiency exam. One officer texted answers to the test to 16 others, and another 17 came forward and said they knew about the test answers being shared.

But with Thursday's update, more than half of the 190 crew members have "some level of involvement," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, adding that—to her knowledge—the alleged cheating is contained to Malmstrom.

Of the 92 members, the Air Force alleges that 40 cheated, while 52 others were aware of the cheating.

The officers have been temporarily decertified while the investigation is ongoing. Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson said nonsuspended crew members are now "pulling additional alerts," but stressed, "There's been no operational impact."

All officers were retested, with an average test score of approximately 95 percent.

Reports earlier this week suggested that roughly 70 members were being tied to the cheating, but a Pentagon spokesperson wouldn't confirm exact numbers at the time.

James acknowledged that with the new findings, she believes there are "systemic problems" within the nuclear-missile force. One of those problems is the current environment, which she said has created a "need for perfection" that has created unnecessary stress and fear.

"I believe that a very terrible irony in this whole situation is that these missilers didn't cheat to pass, they cheated because they felt driven to get 100 percent," James said. "I think this is not a healthy environment. I think we need to relook at the way we do these tests."

At the direction of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a 60-day review of the nuclear force is underway.

The cheating scandal was originally uncovered during an investigation for alleged illegal-drug use.

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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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