Senate poised to confirm first DoD IG in nearly two years

Monday - 7/29/2013, 11:51am EDT

The Senate Armed Services Committee took the next step to fill four vacancies in the Defense Department, including one that has been vacant for almost two years.

The department has been without a Senate-confirmed inspector general since December 2011.

President Barack Obama nominated current Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Inspector General Jon Rymer for the job. Rymer made his case Thursday during his confirmation hearing before the committee.

Rymer has been the FDIC IG since 2006. He recently retired from the Army reserves with more than 30 years of service between his active and reserve duty. He is a graduate of the Army's Inspector General School. His experience in the private sector includes seven years in consulting and interval auditing at a major accounting firm and 15 years as a senior manager in the banking industry.

If confirmed, Rymer said he plans to work with the services to address sexual assault.

When Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) asked if a recent DoD IG audit of sexual assault cases that revealed 10 percent of those cases contained flawed investigations concerned him, Rymer said, "I think the issues of sexual assault are certainly something the IG has to pay more attention to than the office has in the past."

Rymer added, "10 percent is a high number. Perhaps more concerning, though, is the variation in process and procedure used among the different services to investigate sexual assault crimes. The role of the IG is to encourage consistency and identification of best practices."

Rymer said the rising number of suicides in the military "a national tragedy."

He also would focus on suicide prevention.

Donnelly said more service members were lost as a result of suicide than combat last year. He asked about oversight of prevention programs.

While very familiar with the Army's prevention programs, Rymer said he believed the role of the IG is to provide oversight for the effectiveness of the programs in place and an analysis of the money spent by each of the services.

In addition to Rymer, Stephen Preston, the nominee for DoD's general counsel, Susan Rabern, the nominee to be assistant secretary of the Navy for financial management and comptroller, and Dennis McGinn, the nominee to be assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment, also testified.

RELATED STORIES:

DoD's IG to resign

Senator targets military law over sexual assault

Army uses dashboard technology to combat suicides

Hagel: Accountability breakdown was leading factor in sexual assaults