We initiated this investigation into a series of anonymous complaints alleging that Ms. Ellen Ardrey, Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service (DISES), while serving as Director of the Human Development Directorate (HD), National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), circumvented DoD policy and wasted government resources in her management of NGA’s Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payments. The complaints asserted that Ms. Ardrey improperly permitted NGA senior officials to downgrade to non-senior official positions within the agency for one pay period, and then paid them $40,000 each as buyout incentives to leave the agency without obtaining required approval from the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness (OUSD(P&R)).
During our investigation, we interviewed 16 witnesses, and reviewed over 31,000 e-mails and documents. Documentary evidence showed that seven NGA senior officials in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 downgraded from a senior official position to a non-senior official position for one pay period before each retired from NGA with a $40,000 retirement buyout incentive. Witnesses interviewed included the subjects; the current NGA HD director; two other NGA component directors; seven subject matter experts (SMEs); and four NGA employees who implemented voluntary buyout incentive programs for NGA senior officials at Ms. Ardrey’s direction.
We substantiated the allegation that Ms. Ardrey circumvented DoD policy and wasted government resources. Ms. Ardrey’s circumvention of policy resulted in a cost to the government of $280,000.