America Supports You subject of IG probe
May 19, 2007
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Defense Department is conducting a review of America Supports You, a Defense Department effort to support U.S. troops and their families.
The New York Times first reported Saturday that the Defense Department Inspector General’s Office was looking into complaints that America Supports You had allegedly raised and spent money improperly.
The Times also reported that the review would ascertain whether monies have been shifted improperly from Pentagon accounts intended for other purposes.
An Inspector General’s Office spokesman confirmed the Times story but gave no further information.
“We are reviewing DOD involvement in this Web site [America Supports You] and any related funding issues,” the spokesman said Wednesday.
On Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he could not say specifically what issues the IG is reviewing because he has no specific evidence of any wrongdoing.
The review is meant “to make sure that there’s nothing that we’re doing that is improper, that is illegal, that even has the perception of impropriety,” he said.
Dorrance Smith, assistant Defense secretary for public affairs, asked for the review “out of an abundance of caution” after hearing some concerns about the America Supports You program’s business practices, Whitman said.
The concerns were raised during an internal review of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs, he said.
“We felt it best to have an outside entity like the Inspector General, who has not only the resources but the expertise and the experience to evaluate an organization and their contracting and fiscal activities to take a look at it for us,” Whitman said.“There may be nothing here,” Whitman said. “If there is, we’ll find out.”
America Supports You is run by Allison Barber, deputy undersecretary of Defense for public affairs, and head of American Forces Information Service, which includes Stars and Stripes.
Barber will not make any statement on this matter during the review, Whitman said.
Stripes Publisher Thomas Kelsch says he was not aware of any concerns being raised about Stars and Stripes.
“I have no reason to think that any were [raised],” he said.
America Supports You was founded in 2004 as a way for the U.S. public at home to support the troops.
Since then, the program has worked with a number of organizations to support troops and sponsored events such as the annual Freedom Walk to commemorate the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.