Defense official under investigation resigns

A Pentagon official who was being investigated for what whistleblowers called incompetence, extravagant spending, cronyism and “tyrannical” management has resigned.

The Defense Department announced Thursday that Clifford Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, has submitted his resignation to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

“Dr. Stanley was motivated above all by a sense of commitment to the highest standards of service to the men and women in uniform he served,” Doug Wilson, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs said in a statement. “He felt he had done his utmost to carry out the mandate he was given, and that he had arrived at the point where the next steps could be carried out most effectively by a successor. His decision to resign was his own.”

Wilson said Panetta, currently traveling in Asia, “believes that Dr. Stanley has been a devoted public servant.”

The Pentagon inspector general had been probing charges made by Pentagon employees that Stanley spent nearly $400,000 on an “incredibly extravagant” conference room and inserted an old friend into a senior post.

The whistleblowers also alleged that Stanley forced more than 20 senior executives out of his office and conducted electronic eavesdropping on employees.

Stanley “created a dysfunctional command marked by fear and mistrust through a capricious, tyrannical and arbitrary leadership,” according to a July 11 letter to the Pentagon inspector general. “Waste, fraud and abuse of power are rampant. Even if he were competent, his destructive leadership would assure [personnel and readiness office] mission failure.”

The same complaint also included this blunt assessment: “He is incompetent.”

Those charges, and others, are spelled out in three anonymous complaints from Pentagon employees released in August by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO).

Stanley has been undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness since February 2010. He served 33 years in the Marine Corps, retiring as a major general.

"I believe P&R [Personnel and Readiness] is on the right path. I've asked them to ensure that compassion is ever present in their work,” Stanley wrote in his resignation letter to Panetta. “I've joked about the bureaucracy in the Pentagon, but with the understanding that there is some good in having a bureaucracy that is focused on taking care of our troops, families, retirees and civilian employees.”

Stanley will remain in office for about two more weeks, the Pentagon said.

At that point, JoAnn Rooney, principal deputy undersecretary for personnel and readiness, will take over his job on an acting basis until a replacement is named.