Navy Inspector General’s Report on the Naval History and Heritage Command – Part I

Last autumn, the Naval Inspector General carried out a command inspection of the Director, Naval History and Heritage Command. This Command is the primary collector, protector and preserver of “artifacts, documents and art that best embodies our naval history and heritage for present and future generations”. The inspection was carried out from 15 to 23 August and considered operations at the Command’s main facilities in the Washington Navy Yard and at subordinate organizations including the Cheatham Annex storage facility, the Large Cavitation Channel storage facility in Millington TN, six [of twelve] museums (National Museum of the U S Navy, U S Naval Academy Museum, Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, Naval War College Museum, USS Consitution, Submarine Force Museum), the USS  Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus.

Retired Rear Admiral Jay DeLoach, who was appointed to head the Navy historic establishment when it was still called the Naval Historical Center became the Naval History and Heritage Command’s military “head”, though he still carries the title of “Director of Naval History”. Admiral  DeLoach is the most recent in a long list of directors both active or retired senior naval officers and civilians. Because the organization became an actual naval command only in 2008, I am not certain that previous IG inspections had ever been performed. Because of this, we do not have any baseline information to indicate the state of affairs in the Command when Admiral DeLoach became the director. I have contacted the Public Affairs Office at the command, and while my contact there is on leave this week, I have been promised a response to my inquiries about the baseline situation and many more topics.

Now to the Report

I find it interesting though not surprising that of the 39 programs inspected, the 11 assessed by the IG as being “on track (fully compliant)” are what I would refer to as the “military” operations of the Command – such programs as Training, Command Indoctrination, Suicide Prevention, Physical Readiness, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. A good Naval officer is certain to have his naval ducks in a row, and Admiral DeLoach gets good marks from the IG’s team here.

Nine of the Command’s 39 inspected Programs fall into the “need more attention (not fully compliant)” category. This group of Programs look like a blend of the “military” and the historico-preservation Mission of the Command, and include Strategic Planning, Command Relationships and Echelon III (Museum) Support, Legal / Ethics, Financial Management, Information Technology/Information Management/Information Assurance and Environmental Oversight. Of particular concern to this observer are these program deficits:

  • Strategic Planning: an office of strategic planning has been established, and since the IG inspection, a Strategic Plan has been promulgated. According to the IG report, the office is engaged at the Office of the Secretary of Defense level to address programming and resource allocation issues. At issue here is an “absolutely overwhelming” [IG report’s description]  backlog of archive (68 years) and art/artifact (30 years) processing and preservation. The Command estimates that 476 person-years will be required to process the archival materials, and 168  for the art and artifacts. To put more numbers on the problem, consider these: 11.3K cubic feet of paper, 10,864 reels of microfilm, 5.67 terabytes of e-data! The IG report indicated that the inspectors were “particularly concerned with the lack of proper storage for archive materials including microfilm and digital media (CD-ROMs). An industrial refrigerator purchased to store most at-risk microfilm “cannot operate properly in the high humidity environment of the archives”. The IG team recommends that the command’s Strategic Planning Office develop “effective metrics by which to evaluate progress on its prioritized mission areas”, and that a strategic communications plan that was developed actually be implemented. Most notably, the IG team also recommends that the “Navy’s Advisory Subcommittee on Naval History, which was originally established in 1956 and included eminent historians” – the charter of which expired in 2010 – be reconstituted inasmuch as no meetings of this advisory group have occurred in the past three years. [underlining mine]
  • Command Relationships and Echelon III (Museum) Support: the report is succinct: “Irregular funding exacerbated by poor communication has resulted in staff shortfalls and creates excessive budget uncertainty within lower echelons.”
  • Legal / Ethics: according to the IG’s report, the command functioned without benefit of in-house (or any?) legal council until 6 June 2011. Since then, the assigned attorney “has been building an effective program”.  Importantly, the legal office “recognizes gift acceptance and relations with Non-Federal Entities (NFEs) as a very significant practice area given [the Command’s] mission and oversight responsibilities and the number of NFEs (museums and historical foundations) that support the command and its lower echelon organizations”.  The IG recommends a re-evaluation regarding the [implied] need for additional attorneys.
  • Information Technology / Information Management / Information Assurance: the Command Information Officer is not designated in writing, and “is not utilized in his capacity as the principal Information Technology advisor to the Director”. Moreover, “[h]e does not appear to be fully integrated in command decisions concerning IT procurement to support museums and outreach programs.” The majority of his time is taken up addressing IT issues. The Information Assurance Manager is not certified and does not perform duties as outlined in the letter designating the position. 26 legacy computers need certification and accreditation in the DoD IT Portfiolio Repository. The issue here, as I interpret it, is a concern that some computers in this command may be used to access inappropriate (such as secret) materials.
  • Environmental Oversight: According to the IG report, organizations like the Naval History and Heritage Command “typically exercise program oversight of their subordinate activities, to ensure they comply with applicable navy policies, and plan program and budget sufficient resources to meet environmental, natural resource and cultural resource requirements.” These responsibilities are “misaligned in some cases”, for structural reasons not under the Command’s control. the IG reports notes “[t]his issue was brought to the attention of Chief of Naval Operations’ (OPNAV) staff for correction in the soon to be released OPNAVINST 5090.1D.”

Next Week:

Naval History and Heritage Command “Non-Compliant” Programs and the Command’s response. In a following post, I’ll put together some thoughts as a person who wholeheartedly believes in the importance of the Command’s Mission, from the standpoint of both “consumer” of the Command’s services, but also as a person with an abiding devotion to historical preservation.

©2012 Thomas L Snyder

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