WASHINGTON, D.C. –– Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46), senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and founder and chair of the Women in the Military Caucus, introduced legislation in the House of Representatives this week aimed at curbing sexual assaults in the military and holding commanders more accountable for their actions.
H.R. 2230, the Track it to Prevent It Act, takes a multi-step approach toward changing the military’s culture by developing a more effective and accurate performance evaluation process to keep a better record of negative behavioral trends of service members, while also adopting a more comprehensive performance evaluation process for commanders in order to increase the accountability of commanders.
“During my time in Congress, I have made it a priority and have worked diligently to implement policies aimed at reducing the number of sexual assaults that occur within the military,” said Sanchez. “But it’s evident by the rise in sexual assault incidences that the current system in place is not working.
“That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Track it to Prevent it Act this week, which significantly strengthens the military’s process for tracking bad behavioral trends, and holds all service members, including commanders, more accountable for their actions,” said Sanchez. “The Track it to Prevent it Act addresses the culture and climate challenges our military faces today by enforcing an improved process for performance evaluations where service members, commanders included, are held accountable and disciplined for behavior that threatens the climate of a unit.”
The Track it to Prevent it Act strengthens accountability in the military by:
- Holding commanders accountable by requiring the Inspector General to create a tracking system to ensure climate assessments are conducted, and including a section in the performance evaluation where failure to conduct climate assessments can be indicated. A recent GAO report found that many commanders are not conducting required climate assessments evaluations. This bill would hold commanders accountable by asking the Inspector General to create a tracking system to ensure these assessments are conducted. The bill also requires performance evaluations to include a section where senior commanders can indicate whether the commander has conducted the climate assessment.
- Making letters of reprimand mandatory for inclusion in performance evaluations. Currently, commanders are not required to include letters of reprimand in performance evaluations. This provision would require commanders to include these letters in performance evaluations in order to identify and prevent trends of bad behavior early and effectively discipline repeated actions which hinder a healthy unit climate.
- Expanding the Multi-Source Assessment and Feedback Program to all services. The Army currently has a program called the Multi-Source Assessment and Feedback Program, where commanders are assessed not only by their senior commanders but also by their colleagues and subordinates by providing increased accountability and oversight of the leaders in the military. This provision asks the Secretary of Defense to consider this type of approach as part of the performance evaluation for all service branches.
- Conducting monthly health welfare inspections in order to maintain security, military readiness, good order, and discipline of units.
- Reviewing the security of military installations, including barracks and multi-family residences. One of the reasons sexual assault cases cannot be taken to court martial is because of the lack of evidence. This provision asks the Secretary of Defense to look into identifying security gaps on military installations and also look into using 24-hour electronic monitoring at all points of entry into the barracks. This bill asks for a review of security measures.
- Reviewing the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity Role in Sexual Harassment Cases.
A long-time advocate for preventing sexual assault in the military, Sanchez successfully updated the outdated sexual assault provisions in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, originally enacted in 1950, in order to grant additional survivors’ rights. She also legislated to implement a sexual assault database in the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act.