By Captain David Tuma, USN, Ret.
Our service academies have been in the news for the failure of students and faculty to meet standards. In an apparent effort to get around Congress’ failure to provide enough money to the Naval Academy through increased funding from charities, USNA has violated U.S. law and U.S. and DoD regulations. USNA also controls a charity to ensure better support for its varsity sports.
Based upon the USNA’s example, midshipmen learn it’s okay to break laws and regulations if it brings in more money and support for your command.
Charities provide about $100M each year in gifts for or support of USNA programs.
A few of USNA’s violations of law and regulations based upon FOIA responses.
- USNA charters midshipmen organizations that solicit money in the Federal workplace for a charity that then provides money to USNA.
- USNA puts Appropriated Funds into Non-Appropriated Fund accounts with instructions for excess funds to be given to a charity that then provides money to USNA for unrestricted purposes.
- Using government resources, the SUPE mails Navy Federal Credit Union membership applications to prospective Mids – but only for NFCU. He tells them to “return them to the Academy without delay.” ~100% of the 1200 new Mids become NFCU members. Their pay is deposited with NFCU. NFCU advertisements support varsity athletics. (Is the SUPE an NFCU member?)
- USNA uses official websites to link to charities and commercial businesses that give money or support to USNA programs.
- USNA allows midshipmen in uniform to be photographed to support the fundraising activities of charities donating to USNA.
- USNA controls a charity by appointing a majority of its Board of Directors. The charity is able to raise funds and support USNA varsity sports in ways USNA is not allowed to do. The appointments are made in violation of U.S. law and DoD regulations.
- During official business while representing USNA, the SUPE and midshipmen wear the logo of a commercial business that supports USNA varsity sports.
- USNA uses volunteers to accomplish government purposes not authorized by the Anti-Deficiency Act. USNA also violates the ADA by not having liability waivers signed by the volunteers.
- USNA provides charities with highly sensitive Privacy Act information that requires special access and storage. They strip the sensitive markings from the records and use the information to provide money and better athletes to USNA. They don’t provide required protection and USNA doesn’t ensure their personnel are trained or that records are properly maintained.
- The Navy allows charities providing USNA with money and support to use the USNA “Seal” online and in correspondence. It allows them to use the USNA name or abbreviation without this required disclaimer: “THIS IS A NON-FEDERAL ENTITY. IT IS NOT A PART OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE OR ANY OF ITS COMPONENTS AND IT HAS NO GOVERNMENTAL STATUS.”
The Naval Academy is unable to document its Mission Effectiveness
USNA’s Mission: “to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development … to assume the highest responsibilities of command….”
USNA is required to establish quantified goals and measures linked to the above statement and to annually evaluate its performance.
In FOIA responses, USNA states that it hasn’t developed the metrics to measure the effectiveness of its stated mission.
USNA should be able to answer these questions but is unable to:
- Are USNA graduates better leaders or better career officers than past graduates?
- Are USNA graduates better leaders or better career officers than those officers produced at a fraction of the cost from NROTC and OCS programs?
- Have USNA’s program changes produced graduates who are better leaders or better career officers than past graduates?
The CNO told his commanders that “…what you accept–what you walk past–that is your standard…. If it doesn’t measure up, we need to stop, fix that and don’t move on until it does meet our standard.”
If the Superintendent, a 3-Star Admiral reporting directly to the CNO, hasn’t taken corrective action, why think the rest of the Navy will comply? 1000 midshipmen a year graduate to become leaders of our sailors – but USNA taught them the wrong ethics lesson.
It’s time for DoD to require a thorough investigation of the relationships between USNA and its supporting charities and put a stop to USNA’s violations of laws and regulations.
It’s clear that Admiral Farragut’s message has gotten garbled at USNA:
“Damn the regulations! Full moneybags instead!”
David Tuma is a 27 year career naval officer and graduate of USNA. As a class officer and class president he helped raise significant donations for charities supporting USNA. He served on the Council for Annual Giving (to USNA) and was Chairman of the Council of Class President’s Class Gifting Committee. He has years of experience with non-profits including serving as chairman of a non-profit for 5 years.