(www.MaritimeCyprus.com) The Committee on Oversight and Reform and the Committee on Homeland Security of the US House of Representatives released a joint staff report finding that the US Coast Guard mishandled complaints of harassment and bullying and failed to hold those in leadership accountable for their actions.
The Committees on Oversight and Reform and Homeland Security have closely examined the Coast Guard’s handling of two interrelated cases involving allegations of harassment that were investigated under the Coast Guard’s Anti-Harassment and Hate Incident (AHHI) Policy and allegations of bullying investigated by Coast Guard leadership. The investigation has focused on examining the Coast Guard’s processes for receiving, investigating, and resolving allegations. This includes processes for determining whether any actions, such as disciplinary actions, should be taken in response to any findings resulting from investigations. Although the two cases most closely examined by the Committees involved faculty and leadership at the Coast Guard Academy, the AHHI Policy and the processes used to address allegations apply to the entire Coast Guard, including cadets at the Academy and all civilian and military members of the Coast Guard workforce.
Based on the review of thousands of pages of documents and information obtained through multiple interviews with Coast Guard personnel, as well as a staff visit to the Coast Guard Academy, the investigation found the following deficiencies in the Coast Guard’s processes for addressing allegations of harassment and bullying:
LEADERSHIP FAILURES & LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY: Coast Guard military leadership has failed to:
- Conduct prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations of allegations of harassment and bullying;
- Hold officials accountable for deficient and incomplete investigations; and
- Take corrective action to address retaliation against individuals who report harassment and bullying.
In at least one of the cases examined by the Committees, allegations of harassment and bullying were not investigated in a prompt, thorough, and impartial manner, but Coast Guard leadership represented otherwise to both the complainant and the Academy. The Coast Guard has not held anyone accountable for the failure to promptly, thoroughly, and impartially investigate these allegations.
The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) has confirmed that the complainant in this matter—a Lieutenant Commander serving in the Coast Guard—suffered prohibited retaliation in violation of the Military Whistleblower Protection Act on the basis of her complaints.
However, the Coast Guard has not investigated any of the circumstances surrounding the retaliation experienced by the Lieutenant Commander and has not held anyone accountable for retaliating against the Lieutenant Commander.
INADEQUATE POLICIES & PROCEDURES:
Significant improvements in both policies and procedures are needed to ensure the prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation and resolution of allegations of harassment and bullying and to ensure that the Coast Guard’s AHHI Policy is fully and consistently enforced.
The Coast Guard has adopted an AHHI Policy that defines and prohibits harassment. The AHHI Policy also explains how Coast Guard personnel can report allegations of harassment, and it requires the Coast Guard’s military leadership to investigate the allegations it receives.
For more details, click below to download full report: