Army recruitment fraud confirms the need for annual DoD audits

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I remember after my first combat tour in Operation Desert Storm, my artillery branch personnel manager presented me with three choices for my next assignment, known as the 3 Rs: Recruiting, Reserve Component, or ROTC. If you know my bio, I chose to be a College ROTC instructor and joined my wife Angela on campus at Kansas State University.

I knew for certain I didn’t want to be Recruiting Company Commander because no matter how great you were, it all came down to one thing: recruiting numbers. And there was always this looming specter of corrupt actions and compromising of principles in order to make those numbers.

A report from Jon Harper writing for Stars and Stripes reveals exactly that:

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The Army is conducting an investigation into large-scale fraud tied to an Army recruitment program, Sen. Claire McCaskill, the head of the Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, disclosed Monday, a day before she held a hearing on the scandal.

Investigators have found that $29 million in taxpayer money has been lost to fraud, but that number could increase to nearly $100 million by the time the probe is over, Maj. Gen. David Quantock, the Commanding General of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, told lawmakers at the hearing Tuesday.

The Recruiting Assistance Program began in 2005 at a time when the Army National Guard was struggling to meet its recruitment goals as violence in Iraq escalated. The program was created to provide financial incentives to National Guard members not on active duty, retirees and other civilians to act as informal recruiters by encouraging family, friends and other acquaintances to join the National Guard.

I must question the wisdom of using retirees and civilians in this program, which clearly opened up the unintended consequences of nefarious actions. This program should have remained in the realm of individuals referred to as AGRs (Active Guard and Reserve) meaning National Guard members in uniform placed on active duty status. And remember, the National Guard falls under the purview of the each state.

As reported by Stars and Stripes, these so-called “recruiting assistants” would refer potential enlistees to an Army recruiter, and if the person signed up, the recruiting assistant received a $2,000 to $7,500 reward. The Army Reserve and active duty Army used similar programs. At first it all seemed to work just fine, but It turns out some Army recruiters, recruiting assistants and other Army personnel were claiming to have recruited people that were already going to enlist or had already enlisted anyway. There were kickback schemes as well, where recruiters would split bonus money with someone claiming to be the recruiting assistant.

According to Stars and Stripes, more than 1,200 Army recruiters are suspected of fraud, as well as more than 2,000 recruiter assistants. Five individuals collected nearly $1 million combined. All 106,364 individuals who received money from RAP will be investigated by the Army by the time the probe is finished in 2016, according to Lt. Gen. William Grisoli, the Director of the Army Staff.

This Army recruitment fraud is a prime example of why I firmly supported an annual audit of the Department of Defense when I served on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). In my first three months, our office, working with the HASC staff, found three wasteful spending programs in the Department of Defense budget that would save taxpayers $35 million – a drop in the bucket maybe, but what if every Member of Congress did the same?

Just consider what the wasted funds from this recruiting program could have done for front line warriors. The defense of our nation is the federal government’s prime constitutional responsibility. However, the good stewardship of American taxpayers’ resources is its prime moral responsibility.
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