McCaskill calls for another JPAC oversight review

Logo of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, headquartered in Hawaii.


By MATTHEW M. BURKE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 12, 2014

Sen. Claire McCaskill has called for yet another oversight review involving the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command.

The Missouri democrat requested the Government Accountability Office investigate the oversight and cost of the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education fellowship program as it relates to JPAC, according to a statement released by her office Monday.

The Department of Energy program — managed under contract by the non-profit corporation Oak Ridge Associated Universities — places fellows at numerous federal agencies, including JPAC, which heavily uses the fellows to accomplish its mission.

In a Jan. 31 letter to U.S. comptroller general Gene Dodaro, McCaskill requested a review of the program’s costs, oversight and pay scale; the management and employment rights of fellows; situations where federal agencies waive program requirements; and whether fellows are being utilized as a substitute for hiring federal employees.

McCaskill said the program caught her eye during Financial and Contracting Oversight Subcommittee preparations for a hearing on POW/MIA accounting.

“The Subcommittee has learned that the stipend for fellows varies wildly, and does not seem to be tied to any metrics or standards,” McCaskill wrote to Dodaro. “Also, the overhead costs associated with the program appear to be quite high, varying from 14%-18%.

It appears that admittance requirements “are sometimes waived at the request of agencies,” the letter said. “Finally, it is unclear which entity, [Department of Energy], [Oak Ridge Associated Universities] or the employing agency, has oversight over the fellows while they are working for the federal agency.”

McCaskill’s request follows a spate of scandals involving the nation’s accounting apparatus.