Department of Army | Redstone Arsenal, AL | 18-28 | Letter to President

Published by the Office of Special Counsel on 2018-08-08.

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

                                 U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL
                                         1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 300
                                         Washington, D.C. 20036·4505

The Special Counsel

                                                  August 8, 2018

      The President
      The White House
      Washington, D.C. 20500

               Re: OSC File No. DI-15-5616

      Dear Mr. President:

             Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 1213(e)(3), I am forwarding to you reports from the Department
      of the Army (Army) based on disclosures of wrongdoing within the Army Oil Analysis
      Program (AOAP). The whistleblower, who chose to remain anonymous, disclosed that Army
      leadership failed to direct aircraft program managers to use test processes offered by the
      AOAP despite Army policies requiring participation. The whistleblower further alleged that
      the failure to use AOAP resources resulted in an annual waste of approximately $95 million
      and prevented AOAP from fully meeting its mission objectives. On October 13, 2017, the
      Army submitted its report in response to OSC's referral. The whistleblower submitted
      comments on the Army's report on May 30, 2018. OSC has reviewed the agency report and
      whistleblower's comments and, in accordance with 5 U.S.C. § 1213(e), provides the
      following summary of the reports and my findings. 1

            The whistleblower explained that the AOAP, a component of the Army Logistics
      Support Activity (LOGSA), functions as the Army's sole aircraft oil analysis program.
      AOAP's objective is to detect impending equipment component failures and determine
      lubricant conditions through on-line and laboratory evaluations of oil samples. The
      whistleblower alleged that AOAP identified shortcomings in the Army's handling of on-
      board engine oil warnings in T700 engines-installed in Apache and Blackhawk helicopters.
      In response, AOAP offered updated technological solutions to reduce time and money lost
      through the warning process. However, Army leadership declined to take advantage of
      AOAP or endorse its proposed pilot project for new technology, preferring to employ visual
      oil analysis over AOAP's more advanced procedures. The whistleblower alleged that this
      violated Army policy requiring participation in AOAP' s processes, prevented AOAP from
      meetings its mission objectives, and resulted in a gross waste of funds.

         The whistleblower's allegations were referred to former Army Acting Secretary Robert Speer for investigation
       pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 1213(c) and (d). Former Acting Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
       Raymond T. Horoho revieweo and signed the Army's report.
The Special counsel

    The President
    August 8, 2018
    Page 2 of2

          The Army determined that the T700 engine is not subject to the requirement to use
    AOAP processes because it has a high-performance engine oil filter and other components
    that permit an accurate assessment of required maintenance. However, the Army
    investigation determined the T700 was never formally exempted from AOAP. In response,
    the Army initiated corrective actions to complete an administrative exemption. The Army
    further determined the costs of leadership's refusal to enroll the T700 in AOAP were
    significantly lower than the amounts alleged by the whistleblower, finding expenses between
    $6.9 million and $1.5 million, depending on methodology. Regardless of the total associated
    dollar amounts, the Army averred that costs could not be characterized as a gross waste of
    funds because the associated engine maintenance was intended to ensure personnel and
    aircraft safety. The Army acknowledged that a professional disagreement exists between
    T700 and AOAP leadership regarding the efficacy of AOAP's proposed pilot program to test
    state-of-the-art analysis technology. Nevertheless, the Army began a reassessment of
    AOAP's proposal to ensure that the Army is taking advantage of the best available

           In comments on the agency's report, the whistleblower clarified the role of AOAP in
    the analysis process and the difference between the function of the T700 oil filter, which
    filters metal fragments from the engine oil, and the need to analyze the fragments collected
    from oil and other materials. The whistleblower noted that the T700's exemption from
    AOAP participation applied specifically to oil analysis, and not to the analysis of the metals.
    The whistleblower also questioned the agency's assertion that the failure to participate in
    AOAP does not constitute a gross waste of funds, noting that recent dollar figures contradict
    the Army's findings.

           I hav_e reviewed the original disclosure, the agency report, and whistleblower
    comments. The whistleblower raised important concerns with the Army's report, particularly
    the failure of the agency to differentiate between oil analysis and metal :fragment analysis.
    However, in light of the Army's corrective actions, especially its willingness to reconsider
    approval of the AOAP's pilot project, I have determined that the report meets all statutory
    requirements and the findings appear reasonable. As required by 5 U.S.C. § 1213(e)(3), I
    have sent a copy of this letter, the agency's report, and the whistleblower's comments to_the
    Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Committees on Armed Services. I
    have also filed redacted copies of these documents and the§ 1213(c) referral letter in our
    public file, which is available at www.osc. gov. This matter is now closed.


                                                  Special Counsel