DoD IG finds misuse of employees by former personnel official

A top official in the Defense Department’s Office of Personnel and Readiness submitted timesheets saying he was working while he attended a baseball game and misused his employees’ time.

A recently released DoD Inspector General report from December 2014 substantiated claims against Jason Forrester, former deputy assistant secretary of defense reserve affairs, manpower and personnel.

Jason Forrester, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense

The report comes on the heels of Brad Carson, principal deputy undersecretary of personnel and readiness,  announcing his resignation. Carson was nominated to be undersecretary of personnel and readiness, but ran into roadblocks in the Senate over whistleblower allegations and his work on the Force of the Future initiative.

The DoD IG report stated Forrester solicited a ride from a subordinate to Reagan Washington National Airport for a personal trip.

The report unearthed an instance when Forrester was at the airport for personal travel and another where he was at a baseball game when the timesheets indicated he was working.

Forrester also had subordinates escort his personal guests around the Pentagon on unofficial business.

One “witness stated that escorting one particular guest ‘just smacked of personal servitude.’ The witness recalled holding up a sign while waiting for a guest who was late and thinking to himself, ‘You know this is ridiculous,’” the report stated. Some employees “viewed escort duty as demeaning. … One witness testified he was uncomfortable having Mr. Forrester’s guests linked to his Pentagon security badge ‘because once I turned that visitor over to Mr. Forrester I didn’t know where they would go.”

In his testimony, Forrester said he asked military personnel to escort his personal guests. The report states that Forrester said “criticism of escort duty by officers who suggested that this task was beneath the stature of military officers are irrelevant to his case and that one or two individuals’ griping demonstrates either a lack of character or an inadequate understanding of job responsibilities.”

As for the discrepancies in his timesheets, Forrester told the DoD IG the allegations lack factual support and are without merit. Forrester said he had permission to telework and has a formal telework agreement. Forrester said in his position he is able to divide his workday.

DoD’s Personnel and Readiness Office has been a whirlwind or leadership changes. The top post has had six different people serving its duties since President Barack Obama took office.

The office is currently run by Carson under his current principal deputy undersecretary title. Carson was acting undersecretary until members of the Senate Armed Services Committee informed DoD his duties were violating the Vacancies Act.

Carson will be stepping down from his current office in April.

During Carson’s nomination hearing in February, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) asked the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold off on reporting out Carson’s nomination for undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness until some whistleblower allegations can be checked out.

“I was disappointed when complaints were brought to my attention and to the attention of other members of this committee about your leadership in the command environment,” Inhofe said, during a Feb. 25 hearing. “I’ve read reports and have been briefed, as others have, regarding a … hostile work environment that has been fostered under your leadership.”

Carson rejected the allegations.

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