I received this recently from an anonymous source.  I can understand why so many people wish to remain anonymous with all the mistreatment of federal employees going on out there.  Considering the changes happening at the highest levels in DSS recently, it seems to me that the comments of this reader are worth considering carefully.  GFS


G Florence,

The Joint Strike Fighter, BAE and DSS article by Nick Schwellenbach, which you reference, is a good investigative report.  Thank you for posting it on your blog.  DSS’s problems are not yet adequately addressed. 

The report just scratches the surface of a large and systemic problem in DSS.  Director Kathleen Watson told the OIG that “DSS has a thorough and fundamentally sound facility inspection process which was only marginally diminished by the failure to systematically collect, analyze, and retain BAE’s required reports.” 

As the director, Kathy Watson paid the price for bad DSS inspection work and sloppy documentation.  The problem has not gone away with Kathy Watson leaving DSS.  The real problems and responsibilities rest upon the shoulders of Rick Lawhorn, the DSS Director of Field Operations.  To the public and the defense contractors Rick Lawhorn eloquently speaks to quality and timeliness of inspections and inspection reports.  But in reality, Lawhorn has stressed “metrics” or numbers to his DSS regional directors and field office chiefs. 

Many Action Officer positions and deputy management positions were created to micromanage the industrial security representatives doing the inspection work.  It seems like there are more managers sitting around staring at an ever-increasing number of individual manager created Excel spreadsheets than there are field people doing the work.

This has created a DSS management atmosphere where everything becomes top priority, and everything must be done in a timely fashion.  It is not possible to do everything all at once, particularly when more and more is being added to the list and the work force is still insufficient for the workload. 

This has also created an atmosphere where employees are working many undocumented hours to try to remain successful at their jobs.  This environment has lead to employee burnout and high turnover within many of the DSS field offices. 

DSS management and Rick Lawhorn seem to believe that there is a limitless supply of highly trained industrial security representatives just waiting for the opportunity to work for DSS, so the pattern of heavy-handed DSS micromanagement of employees continues on, chasing more and more people who have knowledge and experience out of DSS.

Former and current DSS employees have reported many of these instances to the DoD inspector general’s office.  The DoD inspector general’s office seems to have a high success rate of dismissing these reports without further investigation, which points to another Nick Schwellenbach article that you reference about the DoD inspector general’s office failing in its mission.  Nick Schwellenbach’s article references a Senator Grassley report that says the DoD IG in numerous instances has failed to follow up on serious evidence of wrongdoing, especially in the vulnerable area of defense contracting.

Another Former DSS Employee