The Army’s Recruiting-Fraud Problem

More than $29 million was allegedly illegally taken through the program, with military officials saying another $66 million still has to be cleared.

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 18: Subcommittee chairman Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) speaks during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's Contracting Oversight Subcommittee on Capitol Hill November 18, 2010 in Washington, DC. The subcommittee held the hearing about contracts and the role of the Special Inspector General in Afghanistan. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Feb. 4, 2014, 9:49 a.m.

A trio of sen­at­ors grilled past and cur­rent Army of­fi­cials Tues­day over al­leged fraud in a pop­u­lar re­cruit­ing pro­gram.

“I ap­pre­ci­ate that re­cruit­ing is key to main­tain­ing our mil­it­ary strength “¦ but we have to make sure that we’re go­ing about it the right way.”¦ We can­not have pro­grams fly in the face of law,” Sen. Claire Mc­Caskill said.

The Mis­souri Demo­crat and Re­pub­lic­an Sens. Ron John­son and Kelly Ayotte ques­tioned the of­fi­cials dur­ing a Home­land Se­cur­ity Fin­an­cial and Con­tract­ing Over­sight Sub­com­mit­tee hear­ing.

In 2012, mil­it­ary of­fi­cials shut down a pop­u­lar re­cruit­ing ef­fort after an audit raised ques­tions about al­leged fraud. The Na­tion­al Guard’s Re­cruit­ing As­sist­ance Pro­gram was cre­ated to help the Guard meet re­cruit­ing ef­forts dur­ing the Ir­aq War. But of­fi­cials poin­ted to a lack of over­sight that left the pro­gram open to fraud, in­clud­ing, in some cases, re­cruit­ment as­sist­ants en­list­ing some who already planned on join­ing the Army.

“We have to go back and look at all the people they re­cruited and find out, you were re­gistered un­der this re­cruit­er as­sist­ant. Did you give your per­son­al in­form­a­tion? Did you know he was re­gis­ter­ing you to come in­to the Na­tion­al Guard?’ ” Maj. Gen. Dav­id Quan­tock said when asked to give an ex­ample of how the al­leged fraud could oc­cur and how of­fi­cials in­vest­ig­ated it.

The Army’s Crim­in­al In­vest­ig­a­tion Com­mand is in­vest­ig­at­ing po­ten­tial crim­in­al activ­ity in the re­cruit­ing pro­gram, with 559 crim­in­al in­vest­ig­a­tions in­volving 1,219 in­di­vidu­als so far, ac­cord­ing Lt. Gen. Wil­li­am Grisoli, the dir­ect­or of Army staff, in a writ­ten state­ment. Of­fi­cials sus­pect that more than $29 mil­lion was il­leg­ally ob­tained.

Quan­tock said an­oth­er $66 mil­lion could have been fraud­u­lently ob­tained, but of­fi­cials are still in­vest­ig­at­ing.

The Army Na­tion­al Guard used the re­cruit­ing pro­gram from 2005 to 2012, the Army Re­serve used its pro­gram from 2007 to 2012, and the act­ive Army from 2008 to 2009. Though the pro­gram was used to help boost mil­it­ary re­cruit­ing, it was over­seen by Doc­u­pak, an Alabama-based con­tract­or.

In total the pro­gram cost $459.4 mil­lion: $408.7 mil­lion in the Army Na­tion­al Guard, $42.6 mil­lion in the Army Re­serve, and $7.9 mil­lion in the act­ive Army.

Quan­tock said that in 2007, two po­ten­tial cases of fraud in the re­cruit­ing as­sist­ance pro­gram were re­ferred, five cases in 2008, and an­oth­er two in 2009. But it wasn’t un­til 2010 — when 10 cases of po­ten­tial fraud were re­por­ted — that an of­fi­cial in Hunts­ville, Ala., began to ques­tion if there was a sys­tem­ic fail­ure in the pro­gram.

“There wasn’t really noth­ing that just jumped to our at­ten­tion and that would have dir­ectly said we’ve got a ma­jor prob­lem,” Quan­tock said, when asked by Mc­Caskill why an audit wasn’t ordered un­til 2011.

Though the re­cruit­ing pro­gram was can­celed in 2012, Mc­Caskill said the en­tire pro­gram could have been il­leg­al from the be­gin­ning.

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