Chairman Waxman Issues Subpoena, Chairwoman Slaughter Calls for Removal of Army Official as Head of Walter Reed

March 2, 2007
Today the Oversight Committee issued their first subpoena, which is in regard to the terrible conditions at Walter Reed's outpatient facility. Chairman Henry Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman John Tierney also wrote a letter to Major General Weightman.

From the Oversight and Government Reform Committee:

Committee Subpoenas Former Head of Walter Reed Hospital to Testify

Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman John Tierney sent a letter to Major General George W. Weightman, former Commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, regarding the privatization of support services at Walter Reed and its impact on the conditions at Walter Reed. In addition, the Committee is issuing a subpoena to compel Major General Weightman to appear before the Committee on Monday, March 5.

Letter to Major General George W. Weightman (pdf):

Dear Major General Weightman:

The Subcommmittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs is holding a hearing on Monday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In preparing for your testimony, we ask that you address the implications of a memorandum from Garrison Commander Peter Garibaldi sent through you to Colonel Daryl Spencer, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Resource Management with the U.S. Army Medical Command.

This memorandum, which we understand was written in September 2006, describes how the Army's decision to privatize support services at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was causing an exodus of "highly skilled and experienced personnel." As a result, according to the memorandum, WRAMC Base Operations and patient care services are at risk of mission failure."

Several sources corroborated key portions of the memorandum. We have learned that in January 2006, Walter Reed awarded a five-year, $120 million contract to a company called IAP Worldwide Services for base operations support services, including facilities management. IAP is one of the companies that experienced problems delivering ice during the response to Hurricane Katrina. The company is led by Al Neffgen, a former senior Halliburton official who testified before our Committee in July 2004 in defense of Halliburton's exorbitant charges for fuel delivery and troop support in Iraq.

According to multiple sources, the decision to privatize support services at Walter Reed led to a precipitous drop in support personnel at Walter Reed. Prior to the award of the contract, there were over 300 federal employees providing facilities management and related services at Walter Reed. By February 3, 2007, the day before IAP took over facilities management, the number of support personnel had dropped to under 60. Yet instead of hiring additional personnel, IAP apparently replaced the remaining 60 federal employees with only 50 IAP personnel. The conditions that have been described at Walter Reed are disgraceful. Part of our mission on the Oversight Committee is to investigate what led to the breakdown in services. It would be reprehensible if the deplorable conditions were caused or aggravated by an ideological commitment to privatize government services regardless of the costs to taxpayers and the consequences for wounded soldiers.

From Rep. Louise Slaughter, who is the Chairwoman of the Rules Committee:

Slaughter Calls for Removal of Army Official as Head of Walter Reed

Recent Report Shows Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley Failed to Prevent Deterioration of Hospital's Outpatient Facilities

Washington, DC - Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY-28), Chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, today sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates strongly urging him to remove Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley as the temporary head of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

"The Department of Defense needs to make a choice: does it care about our wounded veterans, or does it care about public relations?" Rep. Slaughter said today. "While I was glad to see that initial steps had been taken to change the leadership at Walter Reed, yesterday's news of Mr. Kiley's appointment was simply baffling. How can a man who stood by for years while American soldiers suffered needlessly be expected to enact real reforms?"

"The outrage of the American public over the conditions at Walter Reed will not be pacified by simply shuffling the deck," Rep. Slaughter said. "Secretary Gates must immediately remove from command anyone who allowed its facilities to fall into such a state of disrepair."

"Our wounded soldiers deserve nothing less than the best health care this country can provide and the best leadership to ensure they receive that care."

A March 1st article in the Washington Post described Lt. Gen. Kiley as having failed to act to correct unacceptable living and health-care standards at Walter Reed's outpatient facilities, despite having been told of problems multiple times over the course of three years.

Read on for background >>