In Need of More Attention

Top-level leadership attention is needed to resolve long-standing challenges in accounting for US military personnel missing in action from past conflicts, said Brenda Farrell, director of defense capabilities and management for the Government Accountability Office. Testifying at an Aug. 1 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel panel, Farrell outlined three actions for the Defense Department to take to fix these issues, which reached the public’s attention following a recently leaked internal report of the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command. They are: examining options to reorganize the “fragmented” accounting community; articulating a clear list of roles and responsibilities to reduce duplication; and finalizing a community-wide plan to develop increased capability and capacity. Currently, more than a dozen Defense Department organizations have a role in accounting for MIAs, noted Farrell. “It’s very important that all of the community be included in the planning, have goals, understand their roles and responsibilities, how they’re going to leverage off of each other in order to attain that goal. And right now, they are not positioned to do so,” she said. (Farrell’s written testimony)