There is certainly no shortage of ineptitude, corruption, or general ineffectiveness in State affairs, particularly the higher up one goes, but it is truly disheartening to learn that these characteristics may have permeated what has long been considered hallowed ground, even in Big Government circles.
Following recent Government Services Administration, Secret Service, and Internal Revenue Service (no doubt among others’) fraud, waste, and abuse scandals, it seems that the Defense Department’s Joint Prisoner of War, Missing In Action Accounting Command (JPAC) has adopted the staple bureaucratic trend as well.
JPAC is responsible for accounting for, locating, retrieving, and identifying the remains of missing American servicemen, namely from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Regardless of the relevant merits of any debate associated with how, when, and why certain military engagements are pursued, there is little ethical room for argument that the government that sends its soldiers to fight has a sacrosanct duty to those soldiers’ parents, spouses, children, other family, and friends to return them home, one way or another.
If true, however, it appears that the inviolability and timelessness of this obligation has diminished, along with much of everything else government bureaucracies touch, into an inefficient, perhaps even corrupt, wasteful exercise of taxpayers’ money. An internally-generated report – which a former commanding general of JPAC attempted to repress “for any purpose” without substantive rebuttal – has warned that JPAC is on the verge of descending from “dysfunction to total failure,” and is currently characterized by “acutely dysfunctional” processes for collecting remains, an inability to meet congressional performance mandates, incomplete and unreliable databases, and “boondoggle” field excursions (particularly in Europe). Labeled by some as “military tourism,” the last point characterizes “a pattern of foreign travel, accommodations and activities paid for by public funds that are ultimately unnecessary, excessive, inefficient or unproductive.”
Certainly from the perspective of taxpayer stewardship at the least, this study is rather disturbing if factually accurate. Perhaps it is my own naiveté shining through but even a robust cynicism where State bureaucracies are concerned should not have to stoop this low.