Bad boss at Pentagon was ‘misusing’ underlings, report says

The Pentagon (AFP/Getty Images)
The Pentagon (AFP/Getty Images)

If you like playing golf on government time, Steven Calvery, the director of the Pentagon’s police force, might be just the boss for you. Then again, if the idea of fetching lunch and coffee for your supervisor every day doesn’t appeal, you might want to work elsewhere.

Calvery, the director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, which safeguards the five-sided building and 100 other military sites around Washington, has been dinged by the Defense Department Inspector General for “misusing” his position and underlings.

In a 40-page report released Monday, the inspector general also said that Calvery improperly allowed an unnamed relative to blast away at the Pentagon Force Protection Agency firing range, while using a PFPA weapon and ammunition. Tips and advice were provided, gratis, by two PFPA firearms instructors. The relative was applying for a law-enforcement job with another agency and apparently needed some practice, the report found.

The inspector general began its misconduct investigation into Calvery after it received a couple of anonymous complaints in March 2011, as well as a letter from an unidentified U.S. senator. The inspector general labored on the inquiry for nearly two years, wrapping things up on Feb. 20, but then it kept the findings quiet.

On April 2, The Post filed a request for the Calvery investigation under the Freedom of Information Act. On Monday, seven months later, the inspector general finally coughed up the report.

Investigators found that Calvery wanted to boost the “esprit de corps” of the 1,300 folks who worked for him. So in 2009 and 2010, he decreed that anyone who wanted to play in the PFPA’s annual golf tournament would get four hours paid administrative leave to hit the links.

Seems like demand was pretty high — the report notes that “the number of participants was regulated by the capacity of the golf course.” An estimated 100-150 lucky duffers got to spend half the work day at play.

The next year, the fun came to an end when a party pooper in the PFPA’s Office of General Counsel “advised that it was not a good idea to authorize administrative leave” to play golf. According to the report, Calvery later told investigators that he still thought he had the authority to let folks in the office play on taxpayers’ time, but decided to “err on the side of caution” and make people take vacation time instead starting in 2011.

When they weren’t on the golf course, however, life for the staffers in Calvery’s office could sometimes be unpleasant. Five witnesses told the inspector general that Calvery’s staffers brought him lunch and coffee every day, and that some of them weren’t too happy about it.

One unidentified witness testified that Calvery would typically pre-order his lunch from the Air Force or Navy mess at the Pentagon and then his staffers would have to pick it up (no explanation for why Calvery avoided Army chow). The boss always paid for his meals and lattes, but the inspector general chided him for misusing his subordinates to cater to him.

Calvery told investigators that he never coerced anyone into fetching his lunch, adding: “I would hope if they felt uncomfortable doing it, they would tell me. And if they did feel uncomfortable, then that would be okay. You know, they wouldn’t have to do that.”

The inspector general urged the Office of the Secretary of Defense to take “appropriate action” against Calvery. Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, a Pentagon spokesman, said Calvery was subjected to “appropriate administrative action” as a result of the investigation, but declined to elaborate, citing privacy restrictions. Calvery did not respond to a request for comment.

Craig Whitlock covers the Pentagon and national security. He has reported for The Washington Post since 1998.
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