Questions Concerning the Practice of Allowing Active Duty Military Personnel To Write Articles That Would Be Printed in Magazines Published by Military Associations That Sell Advertising Space to Defense Contractors

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-12-22.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

B-170924                                                       BEC 2 2 9971
Dear Senator    Proxmire:                                      Ill11

      This is in further     response to your letter        of October 18,
1971, in which you referred       to the magazine entitled         "Army"
that is published by the Association          of the U.S. Army. you ,;, ,- -.IJ- 1
called attention     to the magazine's inclusion        of advertising     by 9
firms having contracts     with the Department of Defense.            You (
raised questions concerning the practice          of allowing active
duty military    personnel to wri       articles    that would be
pr~ntedin     magazine-5 published       military     associations    that
sell advertising     space to d          contractors.

        Section 202 of Executive 0 er 11222--Standards            of Ethi-
cal Conduct for Government Of / icers and Employees--and Depart-
ment of Defense directives      encourage writing     for publication
so long as the laws, provisions       of the order, and agency and
Civil Service regulations     concerning conflict       of interest     and
outside employment are observed.        Department of Defense Direc-
tive 5500.7--Standards    of Conduct--in    pertinent       part, also en-
courages personnel to write for publications.             It recognizes
that such wri$ing may be compensated and also generally              re-
stricts    the writings to that information     which is in the public

      Also applicable     is Department of Defense Directive      5230.9--
Clearance of Department of Defense Public Information--which
provides that military       and civilian   personnel may write articles
for publication,     unless such activity      (1) prevents the public's
prompt receipt    of complete information       through the usual public
information    media, (2) is contrary      to law, or (3) is inconsis-
tent or incompatible      with the ethical    standards of conduct for
a Federal employee.

        This directive  generally restricts     the publication      of ar-
ticles    that deal with national  defense plans, policies,          pro-
grams, or operations     and that are signed by key military          and
civilian    personnel to official  publications      of the Department
of Defense and other Government agencies,          service journals,
house organs, recognized scientific         and professional     journals,
and encyclopedias.      Neither of the two directives        cited

                      50fH   ANNWERSARY   1921-   1971

precludes the publication     of articles   in magazines which sell

       Staff of the Assistant    Secretary    of Defense (Public Af-
fairs)    provided the following   additional    information generally
pertinent     to the questions set out in your letter.

     1. Information    concerning plans, policies,        programs, or
        operations    of the Department of Defense or the Govern-
        ment proposed for publication--whether           such informa-
        tion is prepared by personnel of the Department as an
        official    or personal enterprise--must       be submitted    to
        the Assistant     Secretary    for review and clearance prior
        to release when the information          (a) is of national    in-
        terest,    (b) originates     at or is proposed for release
        at the seat of the Government, (c) may be questionable
        from a security      or policy standpoint,      (d) concerns sub-
        jects of potential       controversy    among the military    ser-
        vices or significant       policy within    the purview of other
        agencies of the Federal Government, or (e) is in spe-
        cial categories      which may be designated from time to
        time by the Assistant        Secretary.

      2. Clearance authority    for information  not requiring  re-
         view by the Assistant     Secretary may be delegated to
         the lowest echelon competent to evaluate the content
         and implications    of the information.

      3. The Office of the Assistant      Secretary    does not main-
         tain a list    of military   association   journals  which
         routinely   publish articles    signed by military    and
         civilian   personnel.

      4. Although that Office maintains     a file of articles   it
         has approved for publication,    the contents of the file
         may or may not indicate    where the articles   are to be
         published.    Also the file would not indicate     when the
         articles   were to be published,  whether the authors
         were to be compensated, or whether the articles       had
         been written   during duty hours or on the authors'

           personal time.    The degree to which such information
           may be maintained by lower echelons authorized     to
           clear articles   for publication is not known.

       In the absence of any readily       available     list  of military
association   publications--such       as Army--we made a limited
search of periodicals       stocked by the Library       of Congress and
the Army Library     at the Pentagon,      We identified      a number of
such magazines which are published by military-interest                groups,
which contain advertising        from both defense and nondefense
firms,   and which feature,      in varying degrees, articles        written
by active duty military        personnel.

       The principal    private   associations    and their     publications
that   we identified    follow,

 Service                Association                         Magazine

Army           Association of the U.S.
                  Army                             Army
Air Force      Air Force Association               Air Force Magazine
Navy           Navy League of the United
                  States                           Navy
Marines        Marine Corps Association            Marine     Corps Gazette

A more detailed  listing of the publications            we identified     is
included in the enclosure to this letter.              The degree of depen-
dence upon active duty military   personnel          for contributions       in
the monthly issues we examined at the two            libraries     varies
from fewer than half the articles   in some          issues to all the ar-
ticles  in other issues.

        We could find no official     records concerning payments to
active duty military       personnel who write for such publica-
tions.     We informally    contacted representatives       of Army maga-
zine and asked whether active duty military           contributors
received payment for their articles.          They stated that, to
their best knowledge, those individuals         whose articles      were
written    during off-duty     hours were paid and that most articles
they published had been prepared during off-duty             hours.   Not-
withstanding     this, each year a few payments are returned to
the publisher     by contributors    who stated that their articles
were written     during duty hours.


      We were told that commandants of the Army schools are
advised by the Army magazine, informally,           of subject matter
areas of particular    current   interest    and that this interest
is communicated, also informally,         to individuals    who have per-
sonal knowledge or experience       in such areas.       Most articles
received for publication      in the magazine are not solicited
from individuals.    From time to time, however, some individ-
uals may be asked to prepare an article          on a special subject.

        This is best illustrated     by the contents of the Green
Book which is issued annually by the Army magazine.              In 1971
the Green Book was issued in October.         The authors of articles
appearing in that issue are, with few exceptions,           officers   or
civilians    of high rank or position.      The Army magazine repre-
sentatives     stated that these individuals     received no payment
because the publishers       considered the articles     to be expres-
sions of official     opinion which were largely      ghost written    dur-
ing duty hours.

     We trust that the information   furnished     is fully  respon-
sive to your request.  If additional    discussion    is desired,
we shall be pleased to meet with you or members of your staff.

                                     Comptroller  General
                                     of the United States


The Honorable   William   Proxmire
United States   Senate


                                        UILITARY          INTERFST        ASSOCIATIONS                 PUBLISHING               'IAGAZINES        WHICH    SELL

                    ADVERTISING               SPACE   AND PC'BLISff        ARTICLES               CONTRIBtiTED             BY ACTI\'E          DDTY   ':ILITARY     PERSONNEL

                                                                                                                                                                      Approximate              num-
                                                                                                                                                                      ber of by-lined
                                                                                                                                                                        articles          con-
                                                                                                                                                                      tributed           by ac-
                                                                                                                                                                      tive       duty     mili-
                                                                                                                                                                      tary       personnel
                                                                                                                                                                      Less                    More
                                                                     Publishing         association                                                                   than                    than
              Periodical                                                      and    address                                             Issues       checked        ~half         -Half      -half
Air        Force      iifagazine                      Air   Force  Association                                                          Aug.                 1971        X
                                                      1750 Pennsylvania                   Avenue,             NW.                       Sept.                1971        X
                                                      Washington,      D.C.               20006                                         Oct.                 1971        X

Army                                                  Association           of the United                     States       Army          Apr.               1971                                 X
                                                      1529 18th         Street,    NW.                                                   May                1971                                 X
                                                      Washington,          D.C.    20036                                                 July               1971                                 X
                                                                                                                                         Oct.               1971                                 x

Navy                                                  Navy League      of the United                          States                     Oct.               1970         x
                                                      818 18th    Street,    NW.                                                         Nov.               1970                     X
                                                      Washington,      D.C.   20006                                                      Dec.               1970         X

Marine         Corps        Gazette                   Marine    Corps     Association                                                    Oct.               1971                                 X
                                                      Box 1775,      Marine      Corps     Base                                          Nov.               1971                                 x
                                                      Quantico,      Virginia          22134

Aerospace             Historian                       Air Force     Historical                    Foundation                             Spring             1971        X
                                                      Building    819                                                                    Summer             1971        X
                                                      Boiling   Air     Force             Base,       D.C.             20332

The        Hawaii       Guardsman                     Hawaii    National        Guard    Association                                     Spring             1971
                                                      Fort   Ruger,      Hawaii       96816                                              Summer             1971

Leatherneck                                           Leatherneck       Association,                     Inc.                           July                1971
                                                      P. 0. Box 1918                                                                    Oct.                1971
                                                      Xlarine     Corps  Headquarters
                                                      Washington,       D.C.       20013

Military             Engineer                         Society     of American      Military                         Engineers           July-Aug.           1971                                 X
                                                      800 17th Street,        NIV.                                                      Sept.-Oct.          1971                                 X
                                                      Washington,     D.C.      20006

Naval         Engineers             Journal           American      Society          of      Naval                                       June               1971        X
                                                         Engineers,         Inc.
                                                      1012 14th      Street,              NW.
                                                      Washington,        D.C.             20005

Ordnance                                              American       Ordnance      Association                                          Mar.-Apr.           1971                                 X
                                                      Union    Trust      Building                                                      Sept.-Oct.          1971                                 X
                                                      Washington,         D.C.     20005

Signal         Magazine                               Armed Forces     Communications                            and                    Oct.                1971        X
                                                         Electronics    Association                                                     Nov.                1971        X
                                                      1725 Eye Street,       NW.
                                                      Washington,    D.C.      20006

The        Review                                     Defense     Supply      Association                                               July-Aug.           1971                     X
                                                      1026 17th      Street,      NW.                                                   Sept.-Oct.          1971                     X
                                                      Washington,        D.C.      20036

U.S.    Naval           Institute                     United     States      Naval           Institute                                  Oct.                1971        X
   Proceedings                                        Annapolis,        Maryland               21402

V*F*W                                                 Veterans        of Foreign             Wars        of      the     U.S.A.         Oct.                1971        X
                                                      V.F.W.      Building
                                                      Kansas      City,    Missouri                  64111