Army Submits Gravesite Study of Arlington National Cemetery 12/22/2011 02:32 PM CST
December 22, 2011
Army Submits Gravesite Study of Arlington National Cemetery
Secretary of the Army John McHugh released today to
Congress the results of a year-long effort to ensure accountability of
gravesites and records at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). McHugh
submitted the report in accordance with Public Law 111-339, which
directed the Army to provide an accounting of gravesites at ANC, and put
in place a plan of action for any discrepancies which may be found.
"The management team I put in place has now conducted
the most comprehensive review and meticulous accounting of gravesites in
Arlington National Cemetery's 147 year history," McHugh said. "They
have examined every available record, physically counted every gravesite
on the cemetery's grounds, and created a digital record of every
headstone and niche cover."
McHugh said this report is the latest in a series that
shows the Army's commitment to and success in improving management and
oversight at ANC. The Army's inspector general recently reported that
"significant progress has been made in all aspects of the cemetery's
performance, accountability and modernization." The Government
Accountability Office -- also directed to submit reports in accordance
with Public Law 111-339 -- similarly noted that the Army "has taken
positive steps to address management deficiencies at Arlington and has
implemented improvements across a range of areas."
The cemetery's Gravesite Accountability Task Force
reconciled existing records and conducted a physical identification of
gravesites -- counting every marker in the cemetery and photographing
each headstone and niche cover. They have completed nearly 200,000
cases, and validated those gravesites without any burial discrepancies
Comprised of Army soldiers and civilians, the task force
was charged with physically identifying every gravesite and niche cover,
cross-referencing each with all available records, identifying
discrepancies, applying appropriate corrective actions and developing
standardized procedures that can be instituted into the daily operations
of the cemetery.
"With the critical support of Congress and the American
people, the task force's significant work has resulted in a far more
detailed and thorough understanding of Arlington's records and living
history than at any time since its inception during the Civil War in
1864," said Kathryn A. Condon, executive director of the Army National
Cemeteries Program. "This comprehensive effort will create a set of
proven procedures that will ensure the accountability of all current and
future gravesites. While remarkable progress has been made this far,
additional work is required."
The gravesite accountability effort resulted in the
first-ever review, analysis and coordination of all Arlington records
that included more than 14 decades of varying records. The end result
will be a single database that will serve as the authoritative record at
Arlington National Cemetery.
The task force compared the photos for 259,978 headstones
and niche covers in the cemetery against more than 510,000 records.
Based upon its review, the task force validated 195,748 cases, and
Arlington is currently completing the validation of 64,230 cases
requiring additional review.
The Army is strengthening both accountability of
gravesites and oversight of cemetery operations, identifying
discrepancies and administrative errors, and taking immediate corrective
action. The Army has defined new accountability processes, standards
and technology, established a rigorous training program and gathered
valuable best practices and lessons learned that are now being
integrated into the Arlington's daily operations.
As remaining cases are validated and resolved,
Arlington's leadership focus will shift to its plan for the future,
having integrated the best practices from the task force into daily
operations. With this plan in place, the next era at Arlington will be
defined as one of modernization, transparency and accountability, with
the goal of connecting the American people to Arlington's rich living
Among the national cemeteries in the United States,
Arlington National Cemetery is unique. It is the only national cemetery
that routinely holds graveside services and provides full military
honors for eligible veterans. It is a national and active military
shrine, hosting 4.1 million visitors annually, as well as ceremonial
functions involving heads of foreign countries and other high level
dignitaries. As the second largest cemetery in the country, Arlington
National Cemetery oversees approximately 27-30 funeral services per day,
five days a week. On Saturdays, the cemetery holds services for which
military honors are not required or requested.
News media with further questions may contact Jennifer
Lynch at 877-907-8585 or firstname.lastname@example.org . A copy of the
ANC report is at
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)