12/20/12

Washington, DC - Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) voted this evening to pass the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2013 (NDAA) which sets the funding levels for the Department of Defense and its programs. The House and Senate passed bill that includes six of the Congresswoman’s amendments will now go to the President for signature.

“This was a very tough vote, but an important step forward for women and men in the military who were raped or sexually assaulted by fellow service members,” said Speier.

Among the positive reforms included in the NDAA related to the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military, three are from Congresswoman Speier: more frequent surveying of active duty service members to determine the number of incidents of rape and sexual assault and measure the effectiveness of reforms efforts; full review of the military justice system’s treatment of these cases compared to our criminal courts; and a review of all unrestricted reports of rape and sexual assault in the military, dating back to 2000, to determine whether victims were discharged subsequent to reporting.

“I am disappointed that the NDAA exceeds the Administration’s request by $1.7 billion, but as hard as that was to support, it is important to celebrate a hard fought health care victory for our military women who become pregnant by rape or incest,” said Speier.

The inclusion of the Shaheen Amendment in the final NDAA lifts a ban on insurance coverage for abortion for servicewomen and dependents who are survivors of rape or incest. Now, military families have the same health choices as other workers who receive their insurance coverage from the federal government.

“I am pleased that this NDAA supports the protection of whistleblowers. It includes new protections for government contract workers and non-federal employees who identify waste, fraud, abuse, or misconduct by their direct employer or government manager,” said Speier.

Based on bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Congresswoman Speier and Congressman Todd Platts (R-PA) last spring, the NDAA contains increased protections for Defense and NASA contract employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse. It additionally creates a four-year pilot program that extends protections to non-Defense contractors.

The following six provisions introduced by Congresswoman Speier are included in the NDAA:

Comptroller General Reviews of Littoral Combat Ship Program
The amendment requires the Government Accountability Office to review both the quality control and operations and sustainment plans for the Littoral Combat Ship program moving forward.

Recent reporting has revealed critical deficiencies with the USS Freedom, the first variant of the ship, including a stern door that could not seal shut, continued cracking and corrosion, electrical outages, and other serious flaws that threaten the operational capabilities of the ship. So far, $11.4 billion has been spent on sea frames for the LCS program.

Congresswoman Speier called for a GAO review of the LCS program in a statement released May 8, 2012.

Inspector General Review of Database of Senior Department of Defense Officials Seeking Employment with Defense Contractors
The amendment requires the Inspector General of the Department of Defense to determine whether or not DOD is properly keeping track of senior military officials and officers who, after retirement, wish to work for defense contractors. The amendment requires the Inspector General to issue a report of their reviews, including reporting on the number of requests for ethics opinions made by military officials seeking employment by a defense contractor, and places where such records are missing from the DOD’s official database.

 

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:
“This amendment addresses the revolving door problem of retired DOD officials going to work for defense contractors.


“In 2008, Congress passed a series of laws to promote transparency in the hiring process. The laws require military officials who expect to receive compensation from defense contractors to request an ethics opinion before accepting employment. The law also requires the Department of Defense to keep a database of all ethics requests and opinions that is periodically subject to review by the Inspector General. Problematically, no reviews have been reported.”


Inspector General Review of For-Profit College Recruiters’ Access to Military Installations

This amendment requires the Inspector General of the Department of Defense to determine if representatives of for-profit colleges are gaining access to military installations which is in violation of current law.

On this amendment Congresswoman Speier said:
“Some For-profit college recruiters have preyed on service members by delivering poor academic programs and even enrolling soldiers suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury.


“The issue of for-profit schools and other commercial solicitations on military installation continues to be raised by many military advocates. Accounts continue to surface of for-profit representatives getting access to military installations and using high-pressure, deceptive tactics marketing and recruitment practices on what should be off-limit installations.  


“Yet, it is DOD policy to safeguard and promote the welfare of DoD personnel as consumers by creating a uniform approach for conduct of all commercial solicitation and sales. It explicitly states that no person has authority to enter a DoD installation to transact a personal commercial solicitation.”


Department of Defense Review of Unrestricted Reports of Sexual Assault and Discharges

This amendment requires the Department of Defense to review all unrestricted reports of rape and sexual assault in the military, dating back to 2000, to determine whether victims were discharged subsequent to reporting, on what grounds and if the separations were in compliance with DOD regulations.


On this amendment, Congresswoman Speier said:

“Mental health diagnoses are rampantly misused to administratively discharge survivors of sexual assault and other service members.  Since 2001, the military has discharged more than 31,000 service members on the grounds that they had personality disorders.


“A 2008, a GAO investigation found that the services were only in compliance of their own requirements related to the personality disorder diagnosis by a psychiatrist or psychologist between 40 to 78 percent of the time. 


“My hope is that this amendment and the findings it produces will trigger the military to address these mishandled cases.  I will be monitoring their actions and will continue to hold them accountable.” 


Workplace and Gender Relations Survey
This amendment requires the Workplace and Gender Relations Survey to be conducted in 2014, 2015, and every two years after that rather than on quadrennial basis. The survey and related report includes an analysis of the prevalence of active duty members’ experiences of sexual assault, as defined by the Uniform Code of Military Conduct (UCMJ), in the 12 months prior to taking the survey and the details of incidents they have experienced.


On this amendment, Congresswoman Speier said:

“The WGR survey reveals the estimated number of rapes or sexual assaults that occurred the year prior and the SAPRO report documents the cases that were reported by victims in either a restricted or unrestricted manner in the year prior. This estimate provides vital context for the other data annually required to be included in the SAPRO report. Problematically, the WGR survey is conducted every four years, while the SAPRO report is published annually making the data compatible only every four years.


“The most recent WGR Survey that was conducted in 2010 revealed an astounding estimated 19,000 rapes or sexual assaults were committed in the military that time frame. That estimate compared with FY10 SAPRO data enabled us to determine that only about 13.5% of cases of military rape or sexual assault are ever reported. But, subsequent SAPRO reports lack the same context because survey estimates will not be available until 2014.”


Independent Uniform Code of Military Justice Review

This amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to assemble an independent panel to conduct a review of UCMJ procedures in sexual assault cases. The panel will examine the punishments or administrative actions taken in response to sexual assault court-martial proceedings, the court-martial convictions of sexual assaults and any subsequent appeals made by defendants, the number of instances in which previous sexual conduct was included in Article 32 proceedings, and the training level of defense and prosecution trial counsel.


On this amendment, Congresswoman Speier said:
“The independent panel will identify deficiencies in the UCMJ judicial proceedings of sexual assault and determine if tools and processes used by state and federal criminal courts would improve the UCMJ.”

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