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. 1 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 technology. 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. Respectfully, 1::2:: Special Counsel Enclosures
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)