WASHINGTON (AP) — The Army reprimanded a two-star general for poor judgment in "creating the perception" of undue favoritism in the awarding of a no-bid government contract, and the military will soon decide whether he will be forced to retire at a lower rank, officials said Monday.
The reprimand, first reported by The Washington Post, reflects another in a recent string of alleged ethical lapses by senior military officers.
Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard was reprimanded by the Army's No.2-ranking general in February following a lengthy investigation by the Army inspector general. The Post disclosed that the probe began in 2011 and was based on an anonymous tip alleging that Pittard had abused his authority by steering a $492,000 contract to a firm run by two of his former West Point classmates while Pittard was commander of the Army's 1st Armored Division and of Fort Bliss, Texas. The contract was an initial step in a $250 million project to make Fort Bliss self-sufficient in energy usage.
In his formal reprimand of Pittard, the Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, wrote that Pittard was being disciplined for "improperly creating the perception of preferential treatment during the award of a government contract," and for improperly giving the contractors inside information.
The Army released a copy of the reprimand Monday.
"Government contracting must be conducted in a manner that reflects fairness and integrity," Allyn wrote. "Your behavior jeopardized these interests and showed a gross lack of good judgment." He added, "Your conduct fell far short of the high standards expected of general officers and undermined public trust. I am profoundly disappointed in your actions."
At the time of his reprimand Pittard was deputy commanding general for operations for 3rd Army and U.S. Army Central. An Army spokeswoman, Cynthia O. Smith, said Pittard finished his tour at U.S. Army Central two months later but his departure had nothing to do with the investigation or reprimand. Pittard was not accused of seeking or obtaining financial gain from the contracting arrangement.
An Army Grade Determination Review Board is expected to meet soon, perhaps this week, to decide whether Pittard will be allow to retired in his current rank.
In a statement to the Post, which disclosed details of the Army investigation based on documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Pittard said his actions at Fort Bliss were based on his determination to move quickly on the contract. The Post said he told Army investigators that he didn't care who got the contract and that he was not personally close with the two former West Point classmates whose firm got the contract.
Smith, the Army spokeswoman, said in a statement that the inspector general's findings and Pittard's reprimand "called into question his suitability for continued service and resulted in his request for retirement, effectively ending his career in the Army."