According to a new government watchdog report, the U.S. Army’s program, SHARP, isn’t cutting the mustard. The acronym stands for its Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program. The report said the Army needs to step up to the plate with a passel of new revisions and that it needs to quit taking its sweet time in doing so. This is not the hurry-up and wait type of situation they’re routinely accustomed to.
The Government Accountability Office issued the report. It said the program is “disjointed [and] unclear” and that it often results in “confusion for commanders and SHARP personnel.” The lingo in which it’s written is difficult to interpret, and what little they have to go on doesn’t offer any concrete guidelines.
Each SHARP administrator was to be given 14 policy directives as part of a unified series of regulations to assure that every Army post was on the same page and knew how to specifically handle such events in the same manner.
Since the implementation of the program in Feb 2017, the directives have yet to be issued and received by anybody. Since the GOA called the Army out, they now say they’ll get them in people’s hands by October 1, roughly five years behind schedule.
What should have been caught but never was, is how the Defense Department’s policies on matters of sexual misconduct have more than a few disparities between how the Army’s SHARP program says to handle them. So the first step is going to have to be in comparing notes.
The GOA only stumbled upon the inefficiency of SHARP because they were hoping to write a glowing report on its success but got blindsided. They said it was impossible to measure the program by way of existing metrics when they, in fact, do not exist.
All the GOA could write in their report was, “The Army does not know whether its efforts to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and assault are succeeding.” How could they?
A number of suggestions were made in the watchdog report and they’re all things that should have been accomplished from the get-go. Establish metrics and enforce them. Remove all barriers preventing victims from reporting sexual abuse, assault, or harassment.
The last bit of advice was to centralize the program so that everyone could not only access the identical information but also have a complete library of resources at their fingertips.
The Army, having no choice but to respond to the damning report, chose Army Undersecretary Gabe Camarillo as its fall guy. Rather than fish for excuses, Camarillo took the high road by saying that “the entire SHARP program is being restructured.” Smart move. His only possible move, but still…
Camarillo said the Army is tossing in the threat of some high-ranking disciplinary action to “enforce commander accountability for program implementation and inspection result findings.” Staffing for on-post programs will be increased along with the addition of an annual training class required for all troops.
Lead program coordinators at each Army installation will be considered as special staff to not be messed with. They’ll report straight to the installation commander to avoid response delays and red tape.
Is the Army to blame or is the GOA for not doing their jobs sooner? It’s probably safe to choose both. If you really think about it, it took the media to expose this atrocity that may have continued had it not discovered and being splashed on headlines. You’re welcome.