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Pentagon commission on sexual assault to be announced by end of week

Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby briefs the Pentagon press corps Monday. Photo courtesy Department of Defense
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby briefs the Pentagon press corps Monday. Photo courtesy Department of Defense

Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will formally announce the formation, makeup and start of the military's 90-day commission on sexual assault by the end of the week.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters at a Monday-afternoon press conference that Austin has already met with Pentagon leaders to give them his feedback on their inputs for addressing sexual assault in the services.

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"As you know, it was [Austin's] first directive on his second day in office to ask the services to provide him input on what they felt they were doing right, what they needed to improve and the ideas they had going forward," Kirby said at a Tuesday-afternoon press conference. "He had the opportunity to review that work and talk to them about that today. It was a good productive discussion."

He also said Austin will not wait until the end of the commission's 90 days to act on recommendations he feels would be helpful, and that defense officials will consult with congressional leaders as the commission comes together.

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Earlier this month the Government Accountability Office released a report saying the Department of Defense needs to issue guidance for tracking reports of sexual assault and harassment, as well as the results of those reports.

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The GAO's review found that the DoD doesn't have a clear standard regarding what types of incidents need to be reported to its central databases, and that some types of reports -- particularly those involving civilian DoD employees -- can fall through the cracks.

At the time the GAO noted that the DoD had reviewed its recommendations and largely agreed with them, but that a statutory change is needed to clarify civilian DoD employees' rights.

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