The Navy has ordered the retirement of one admiral, censured and transfered another, and disciplined a third for not adequately warning senior Pentagon officials of cost overruns in the A-12 Avenger aircraft program.
Navy Secretary Lawrence Garrett III reported the disciplinary actions in a memo to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, made public Tuesday following an inspector general's investigation of the history of reporting program problems to senior officials.Ordered to retire effective in February was Vice Adm. Richard Gentz, commander of the Naval Air Systems Command.
Censured and transferred to other duties was Rear Adm. John Calvert, the program executive officer.
And censured and given new job reporting requirements was Capt. Lawrence Elberfeld, the program manager. Elberfeld already had been approved for promotion to rear admiral and will be allowed to retain his star.
Although the report was harsh, it said no evidence was found of any intentional effort to surpress word that program costs were exceeding the budget.
The report also said the head of Pentagon buying programs, John Betti, was aware of the higher estimates but, rather than trying to figure out why a special analysis of the cost came up $1 billion higher than Navy figures, he relied on contractor and Navy assurances the program could be completed within cost estimates.
In a statement, Cheney said Deputy Defense Secretary Donald Atwood will review the A-12 program and "related personnel and acquisiton issues" and make recommendations for corrective actions to Cheney next week.
In late April, the Defense Department released its "major aircraft review," examining a variety of aviation programs, including the A-12, and concluded the program was doing fine.
The inspector general found that the information on cost problems was known within the aviation program, but did not make its way to senior officials with suffient emphasis to raise alarm bells before the major aircraft review was completed.