Pentagon official under investigation resigns

A DOD leader suspected of waste and mismanagement has stepped down

The Defense Department’s personnel chief has stepped down amid allegations of waste and mismanagement, a resignation Defense Secretary Leon Panetta accepted Oct. 27.

Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, is being investigated by the DOD inspector general after complaints that he abused staff, failed to uphold duties and wasted money building a conference room that reportedly cost as much as $500,000. He is also accused of mismanaging programs, including the Wounded Warrior program for veterans injured in combat.

Numerous complaints were filed over the summer and sent to Congress. The damning complaints painted Stanley as tyrannical and vindictive and a failure as a leader.

“He has created a dysfunctional command marked by fear and mistrust through a capricious, tyrannical and arbitrary leadership. Waste, fraud and abuse of power are rampant. Even if he were competent, his destructive leadership would assure [personnel and readiness] mission failure,” a July 11 complaint read, according to a National Journal report.

Another report, dated Aug. 3, alleged that Stanley used funds designated for wounded troops to pay for the new conference room and a $5 million contract with McKinsey and Co. to create a strategic plan and employee survey for Stanley’s office.

While the Pentagon seeks a replacement for Stanley, his deputy, Jo Ann Rooney, will be acting undersecretary for personnel and readiness.

In his resignation letter, Stanley professed his love for his office and the military, according to a Pentagon release.

“I’ve asked them to ensure that compassion is ever present in their work,” he wrote of his staff. “I’ve joked about the bureaucracy in the Pentagon, but with the understanding that there is some good in having a bureaucracy that is focused on taking care of our troops, families, retirees and civilian employees…I’m not ashamed to say that I love them all.”

Panetta is on travel in Asia, but released a statement through Doug Wilson, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, who said the secretary lauded Stanley’s public service.

Panetta “has praised Dr. Stanley as an advocate for America’s men and women in uniform,” Wilson said. “The secretary has accepted his resignation, and upon his return will personally convey his appreciation for Dr. Stanley’s service as part of the Pentagon’s senior leadership team.”

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