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Military Academies Fail to Adopt Needed Reforms

Mar 12, 2008

Although the Department of Defense (DOD) and Coast Guard military academies have made some progress in addressing sexual assault and harassment on campus, much more work is needed. That is the conclusion of a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which finds continuing inconsistencies in the ways data is collected and reported, and a failure by military academy leaders to establish measures to analyze incidence data and survey results, and to assess their own programs.

Each military academy has taken steps to prevent, respond to and resolve sexual assault and harassment, including hiring a sexual assault response coordinator and establishing training programs to prevent future incidents.

“While the DOD has established an oversight framework for its academies’ sexual harassment and assault programs, its oversight has not been integrated and comprehensive,” the GAO says in the new report. “As a result, it has been difficult for DOD and Congress to judge how well the academies are addressing these important issues.” The GAO recommends that Congress require the Coast Guard Academy to submit data to be included in DOD’s annual report, since it does not currently report to Congress on its progress.

U.S. military academies are facing tougher scrutiny since high profile sexual assault allegations surfaced at the Air Force, Naval and Coast Guard academies in recent years.

In “The DOD and Coast Guard Academies Have Taken Steps to Address Incidents of Sexual Harassment and Assault, but Greater Federal Oversight is Needed” the GAO evaluates 32 sexual harassment claims, and 121 cases of sexual assault (25 of which were privately reported without triggering an investigation) from 2003 through 2006. It was presented to the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in February.

The full report is available at www.gao.gov/new.items/d08296.pdf.

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