The Army Inspector General investigated and reported illegal
activities and security risks at Maryland’s
Army Research Labs, but lab officials have taken no action against the offending employees.
The investigation found that government employees committed fraud, made false statements, received improper promotions, solicited gratuities from contractors, received those gratuities, and the contractor involved paid gratuities “in exchange for contracts or favorable treatment,” according to the Army inspector general report obtained by WorldNetDaily through the Freedom of Information Act.
“The AIG report is a completed document and will not serve as the basis for any actions,” confirmed Army Research Labs spokesman David A. Davison.
The only action taken by lab officials was to conduct another investigation, according to Davison. Although that investigation was completed in July, the Army lab refused to release it to WorldNetDaily or reveal its findings.
The Army inspector general report was given to Dr. Robert W. Whalin, civilian director of the Army labs in November 1999. But rather than take action against the employees cited in the report, Whalin asked a long-time friend, retired Gen. Allen Grum, to conduct a new investigation.
WorldNetDaily obtained a copy of the Army IG report, but not the completed Grum report, which remains locked in Whalin’s office. However, WND was able to obtain most of the evidence gathered for both investigations.
“The report completed by General Allen Grum contains internal advice, recommendations, and subjective evaluations which are exempt from release under exemption Number 5 of the FOIA. It also contains personal information relating to government employees that could result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and is exempt from release pursuant to Exemption Number 6 and 7 of the FOIA,” said Timothy W. Connolly, FOIA officer at the Army labs in a letter to WorldNetDaily.
“The Grum report may be used as the basis for possible personnel actions and, as such, is still in use. Therefore, it is largely exempt from FOIA release,” explained Davison.
Whalin has declined to respond to questions and Grum would confirm only that he conducted “an informal investigation,” not an official 15-6.
The inspector general report details the evidence used in the investigation, most of which was provided to the investigators by a group of concerned employees at the Army Research Labs. Although the evidence incriminates a number of ARL civilian employees and management,
only one employee, Gloria P. Wren, was forced to resign, and only after WorldNetDaily broke the story about the violations.
Wren was chief of the propulsion branch at the ballistics and weapons concepts division of the Army lab. Scientists there complained about her for many years.
The Army IG report remained hidden from the public and from Army lab whistleblowers until WND obtained a copy from the Pentagon through the Freedom of Information Act. The report contradicts Davison’s claims that there was no investigation and no need for remedial or punitive action to be taken.
Upon learning of the documents obtained by WND, Davison changed his previous statement, saying the reason for his earlier denial was that “there was no investigation of the type you asked about.”
Wren and Bill Oberle claimed to be co-authors of numerous technical and scientific papers, but those papers were actually authored by others, according to the Army inspector general report. Supervisors of Wren and Oberle were required to review technically and approve the final papers.
The supervisors included Dr. Ingo May, former director of the Army Research Labs Weapons and Materials Division; Albert W. Horst, a division chief; and Walter F. (Rick) Morrison, director of science and technology integration. All three top-level managers are highly qualified in the field of interior ballistics.
May ostensibly retired from ARL in July — complete with a retirement party — his retirement has been held up pending a separate investigation into his own involvement, conducted by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, according to an investigator who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Morrison and Horst are also under investigation, according to the source.
The Army inspector general’s report, dated Nov. 18, 1999, provides a listing for both substantiated and unsubstantiated charges. The report states that the unsubstantiated charges are “none.”
Army IG report substantiated charges:
- “(Redacted names) improperly solicited and received contractor gratuities (research papers) to represent as her own work in violation of 5 CFR sec 2635.202.”
- “(Redacted names) improperly solicited and received contractor gratuities in exchange for contracts or favorable treatment under a contract in violation of FAR part 3 subpart 3.101-2 and 5 CFR Sec 2635.202.”
- “CRAFTech (sic) (Combustion Research and Flow Technology, Inc.) a government contractor improperly provided non-contractual work product or gratuities to (redacted names) in exchange for contracts or favorable treatment under a contract in violation of FAR part 3 subpart 3.2.”
- “(Redacted names) improperly received a promotion based in part on gratuitous reports received from government contractors in violation of 5 CFR sec 2635.202.”
- “That (redacted names) made False, Fictitious, and Fraudulent Statements in violation of US Code Title 18 Sec 1001.”
Despite the substantiated charges, no action was taken by Army Research Labs against the employees involved. ARL officials claim the only thing needed was a revision of the procedures and ethics of workers.
“Investigations pointed to procedural weaknesses in certain areas. Areas include ethical responsibilities in the publication and presentation of technical information, procedures in dealing with contractual workers, employee training and supervisory responsibilities. An executive office reviewing official has been appointed to make appropriate recommendations for modifications in ARL processes, procedures and regulations to minimize the probability of a reoccurrence of similar events. It is expected that recommendations will be implemented by the end of the calendar year,” Davison said.
When asked specifically about Wren, Oberle, Horst, May and Morrison, he would only say that due to privacy restrictions, “we cannot comment on any personnel actions.”
Oberle and Wren were listed as co-authors of the plagiarized documents. Despite the fact that the same evidence was a part of the inspector general report,
only Wren was asked to leave. Oberle has been transferred to a new position with greater responsibility.
Army records show that Oberle and Wren both worked as teachers in the Baltimore County School District prior to going to work at ARL in the mid-1980s. They had adjacent offices from the beginning of their employment until Wren was forced to resign in July.
The evidence in the Army IG investigation shows that both Wren and Oberle began to plagiarize documents soon after they began work at Army research facility. Many of the documents obtained by WorldNetDaily show that Wren and Oberle were co-authors, while earlier versions of the same documents do not show their names at all.
Despite complaints from more than a dozen Army Research Labs employees about the plagiarism, both Wren and Oberle were promoted to GS-15 level, each with salary and benefits in excess of $100,000 per year. Promotions required the approval of Morrison, Horst and May — all three of whom had to approve the various plagiarized documents submitted to qualify for the promotion.
The evidence used in the Army IG investigation shows that Wren and Oberle did not write the plagiarized documents. Their students, a government contractor, ARL employees and university professors did.
Even Oberle’s doctoral thesis came under question in the investigation.
More than a dozen current and former Army lab civilian employees provided evidence and information to WND — many of the same whistleblowers who provided evidence and testimony to the Army inspector general.
“The price for telling the truth has been very high,” said one of the employees in a phone interview. “There has been all kinds of retribution. Every time someone gets moved in a reorganization or RIFed (‘reduction in force’) out, the soldiers are the ones who pay the price because the projects we are working on suffer greatly. And, of course, the taxpayer is hurt too.”
The whistleblowers agreed that the actions of May, Horst, and Morrison caused many employees to “go along to get along,” rather than complain and risk losing their job.
“They are constantly using intimidation and fear to control,” explained one of the whistleblowers.
When the results of the Army IG investigation were released internally to Whalin in November 1999, no action was taken against Wren or Oberle. The report was quietly filed and a new investigation was started in December. Wren and Oberle were not considered to be a security risk, and in fact were given greater responsibilities. No restrictions were placed on their security clearances.
When the first reports of problems at Army Research Labs were
published by WorldNetDaily, it was announced to ARL staff that Wren had been selected to receive long-term training at a local university. Employees gathered for a reception to wish her luck. After additional articles documenting more details of alleged wrongdoing on Wren’s part, however, she was forced to resign.
Within a few weeks, Wren was once again teaching at Perry Hall High School in the Baltimore County School District.
Oberle has not suffered the same fate as Wren even though the Army IG report gave significant evidence to show that both Wren and Oberle conspired to plagiarize documents.
In fact, Oberle now has two offices at ARL, having been promoted by Horst to the position of director of future combat systems, a high-profile job with a major program. Oberle must report to the Army chief of staff — and the project he now runs deals with “critical Army forces capabilities and hundreds of millions of future dollars,” said one of the Army lab employees.
One of the whistleblowers acted as a voice for all the others. He was asked how May, Morrison and Horst could sign off on the many unethical acts by Wren and Oberle for so many years. The whistleblowing employees considered the question and provided this statement:
Their quest for personal power far outweighed their sense of mission, ethics and the welfare of the workforce or the soldiers they were to support. During the Civil War and other wars past, they would have been hung as scalawags and profiteers, which they were and are — power-hungry, government-employed scalawags and profiteers!
They had the opportunity and the means to correct the habits of Gloria and Bill from the very beginning, however, they saw in Gloria and Bill the necessary ‘handles’ — the severe impairment or total lack of principles, moral compass, honesty, ethics, morality and/or any other socially redeeming factors that any ‘spy or power master’ looks for in ‘agents’ who will be expected to ‘do anything’ and ‘sell out anyone’ for the money and loyalty only to the master, not concepts or principles or ideas such as the law, the Constitution or the Ten Commandments. Just the kind of people that should never hold a position of public trust, nor ever be granted any kind of security clearance. Because, in a tight spot, they will sell out to anyone with more power or dollars.
The Army inspector general investigation contained a vast amount of evidence. Titles of some of the documents obtained by WorldNetDaily are cited here to illustrate the way Wren and Oberle listed themselves as authors of documents they did not actually write.
The Army IG report on page 37 cites “Preliminary Evaluation of the Effect of Radiation on Closed Chamber ETC Firings” as evidence. CRAFT Tech completed the work for Wren, according to the report. A separate document obtained by WND indicates that a senior scientist from CRAFT Tech complained that he was tired of writing papers for Wren. When the paper was actually published, Wren added Oberle as co-author.
Page 36 of the Army IG report lists as evidence, “Modeling Ignition and High Loading Solid Propellant Charge Design,” which was the title listed on Wren’s factor four (used for promotions) which left off the word “Novel” from the title. Both Wren and Oberle’s names were added to the finished document after it was completed and published by CRAFT Tech, according to the report and evidence.
Additional examples of plagiarized documents, copies of which WND obtained, were included in the Army IG report:
- “Electrothermal Chemical Gun Flowfields and Implication for High Performance Projectile Design”
- “Liquid Propellant Gun Technology”
- “Simulation of ETC Interior Ballistics Using a Coupled Plasma XKTC Code”
- “Consideration of Pressure Gradients in ETC Guns”
The IG report states: “This work is a verbatim copy of the above paper,” indicating that the document had been copied and the names of Wren and Oberle were added as co-authors after the document was first published without their names on it.
“It is clear that May, Morrison, and Horst routinely approved of this, and initially helped Wren and Oberle pursue this type of fraud and abuse,” said the spokesman for the whistleblowers. “Horst was there first and knew how to do this. It is clear that the Army wants to avoid the implication of conspiracy”
He also said that Wren and Oberle could not have continued to plagiarize documents for so many years without the help of their superiors who had to approve of each document involved.
“Al Horst was pivotal in both allowing Wren and Oberle to continue to get away with their fraudulent activities and in fact actively, but behind the scenes, aided them in many if not all of their activities,” said the employee spokesman. “They could never have succeeded in publishing any bogus or plagiarized papers except for his almost singular and his unique personal participation. Furthermore, ARL scientists had been giving documentary evidence to Al Horst since at least Feb. 1995 to show Wren and Oberle’s activities. The reward for one scientist was an official letter of reprimand in his file written by Horst. How low down, evil and shameful can you get?”
Whistleblowers who were asked to testify, and who provided evidence to Grum, complained to WorldNetDaily that Grum told them he was conducting an official Army 15-6 investigation — similar to a grand jury.
WorldNetDaily previously reported that the investigation was
informal and unofficial.
“There is nothing binding about the investigation and no power behind it. If they had really conducted a 15-6 like they said, they would be forced to take action. Now the results stay locked in a file in Whalin’s office,” said the whistleblower spokesman.
When Davison was asked why those who testified were told it was a 15-6 investigation, he said they were only told it was conducted under the format of a 15-6.
“The 15-6 format is often used as a guide in conducting an administrative investigation. A commander or director has the option of ordering either a 15-6 or an administrative investigation. In this instance, the director determined that an administrative investigation would be the most appropriate,” said Davison.
Since the Army IG report states that all charges are substantiated, what does the Grum report state? Will any action be taken?
“New initiatives are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year. Some are currently being initiated, such as a new ethics policy and changes in promotion board procedures for S and E’s, others are still being developed or are under review,” responded Davison.
CRAFT Tech went from a $600,000 contract with ARL to a $2 million per year contract once Wren took control of the contract. The Army IG report states that Wren proceeded incorrectly and that CRAFT Tech was also in the wrong.
According to the Army IG report, employees of CRAFT Tech wrote scientific reports and then permitted Wren and Oberle to place their names on those documents as co-authors. Wren took charge of the CRAFT Tech contract and sidestepped the normal process for changes to the contract. Under Wren, the CRAFT Tech contract increased from $600,000 to $2 million.
When employees complained to Horst about the practice, he told them, “It’s ours. We paid for it,” according to the spokesman for the whistleblowers. “He said it more than once to several of us on different occasions,” he added.
“CRAFT Tech has unsupervised use of government supercomputers and
advertises the availability of those computers to potential
non-government clients right on their website. They were paid to use government computers for non-government work,” said the employees’ spokesman.
CRAFT Tech conducts research and development in computational fluid dynamics applications using “cutting edge computational simulations and advanced software development for both government and commercial clients,” according to the company’s website. It also tells prospective clients that CRAFT Tech has “a dedicated T1 communications line provides connection to varied government supercomputer systems.”
“We have no evidence that CRAFT Tech did anything other than government work for ARL,” said Davison.
Sanford Dash, president of CRAFT Tech, told WorldNetDaily in a phone interview that his company has never been questioned by investigators about the stated improprieties and he has never seen the Army inspector general’s report. He was greatly dismayed that the report was released to WorldNetDaily before he had a chance to see it.
“CRAFT Tech has never received notification of any improprieties and we strongly deny that there were any,” said Dash.
“The information you are receiving from your sources regarding CRAFT Tech is distorted, unsubstantiated and entirely untrue. In the interests of the truth, we would appreciate knowing specifically who is making these accusations so we can provide an appropriate response. Our information indicates that your sources have a conflict of interest in this matter and would gain advantage by blemishing CRAFT Tech’s reputation,” said Dash.
CRAFT Tech had a “time and materials contract” for with a maximum ceiling to be paid of $600,000. That amount was increased by Wren on July 29, 1998, to $2,000,000. In addition to the change in payment to CRAFT Tech, the contract was changed to require that technical papers would be provided.
“The terms and conditions of the contract are that the government would pay for CRAFT Tech to work as an independent contractor and not as an agent of the government, to provide technical support to the government for the design of advanced gun and artillery charges. The contract stated the contractor was to furnish the necessary personnel, materials, equipment and facilities to conduct work on a task order basis. The work product to be provided and any modifications to the contract were required to be specified in each task order,” the IG report stated.
The report found that “[redacted name] designated herself as the COTR [Contracting Officer Technical Representative] for the CRAFTech (sic) contract without the proper authority, which must be designated in writing. The contract was improperly amended as it progressed to include requirements to write reports.
“Therefore, this investigation determines that the scientific requirement and funding for this subcontract is based on fraudulent task orders and official statements in violation of US Code Title 18 Sec 1001, False, Fictitious and Fraudulent Statements or Entries.”
The investigation concludes: “Under this procurement contract no cooperative scientific effort between the subject and the contractor was authorized.”
“That means on this issue alone there was significant waste, fraud, and abuse. Not only is this a great cost to the taxpayers, it is also hurting our soldiers. Time and money that should be used to improve our weapons went to waste,” said one of the whistleblowers about the conclusion in the IG report.
Wren has never responded to WorldNetDaily phone and e-mail requests for comment. Horst and Oberle were both contacted by phone at their homes.
“I think by now you know that you have to speak to Dave Davison. I have no comment,” said Horst. Oberle gave a similar response and slammed down the phone.
Morrison has not responded to phone and e-mail requests for comments.