Arlington Cemetery management ripped

April 15, 2011 at 10:42 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 15 (UPI) -- Some members of the U.S. Congress are lambasting the management of Arlington National Cemetery, one saying it has a "culture of incompetence."

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., said at a House hearing Thursday problems with the national veterans' cemetery in Arlington, Va., extend beyond two top officials who were replaced last summer, The Washington Post reported.

"There were whole echelons of support leadership that were complicit" in mismanaging the cemetery, Coffman said. "This is an organization that is rotten to its core. This is an organization that has conducted itself with -- I think the best way to describe it [is having] a culture of incompetence, if not a culture of corruption."

Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., blamed Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Inspector General R. Steven Whitcomb for not taking problems with the cemetery seriously. Both were invited to the House hearing but neither showed up.

"It's obvious they don't get it," said Wittman, chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

An Army inspector general's report last year found widespread problems at the cemetery, including unmarked and mismarked graves, and millions of dollars spent on botched contracts to digitize the cemetery's paper records.

Since the initial report came to light, cemetery officials have turned up other issues, including people being buried in the wrong place or in unmarked graves.

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