The Irish American Director of the Missile Defense Agency Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly testifies routinely bullied his senior staff according to a new report.
A U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee enquiry, ordered three years ago, has concluded that O’Reilly was guilty of bullying.
The Defense Department’s inspector general said in a report made public on Tuesday that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s chief routinely bullied his senior staff and chilled discussion of thorny issues in the multibillion-dollar program he runs.
The report also claims that Army Lieutenant General O’Reilly, who has headed the Pentagon arm since November 2008, demeaned and belittled subordinates.
The 19 page report, dated May 2nd, also says he made them reluctant ‘to speak up and raise issues during meetings with him’.
The agency is currently developing, testing and fielding a layered shield against ballistic missiles that could be fired by countries like Iran and North Korea.
It manages research, development, testing, purchases and stitching together complex systems on land, at sea and sensors in space.
Media reports say the $10 billion-a-year effort has a long record of flight-test failures and successes as well as the biggest research budget of any Pentagon program.
As part of the hearing, the inspector general interviewed O’Reilly and 33 other witnesses with knowledge of the matters at issue with another four added at O’Reilly’s request.
The investigation found that some witnesses testified that fear of O’Reilly’s reactions ‘impeded the flow of information’.
A spokeswoman for the inspector general, Bridget Serchak, told reporters that such reports typically were made public only after receipt of at least three requests for them under the Freedom of Information Act.
Five witnesses told inspectors that O’Reilly’s leadership, described by the investigators as marked by yelling and screaming, was either the main factor or a contributing factor in their decision to leave the agency.
The report said: “We received consistent testimony that as a result of his management style, even senior officials stopped communicating.”
The inspector general recommended the secretary of the army consider ‘appropriate corrective action’.
Quotes attributed to witnesses in relation to O’Reilly included:
•The worst manager I’ve worked for in 26 years of public service
•As a leader, as a director, whatever, he’s the worst
•In terms of leadership, bottom
•Absolutely last, out of all the generals I’ve served under
•Without a doubt ... the worst leader I’ve worked for, the worst
•He has probably been 100 degrees out from everything I’ve learned about leadership
•How not to act
•What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
•Not the command climate I would have set
In response, O’Reilly questioned the accuracy of witness testimony and denied engaging in many of the alleged brow-beating practices.
He also said that he had initiated weekly meetings with top aides to make sure that effective lines of communication stayed open.