U.S. Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin L. Scovel III Announces Retirement
WASHINGTON — The Honorable Calvin L. Scovel III, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), will be retiring from Federal service effective January 31, 2020. Mr. Scovel’s retirement comes after 42 years of military and civilian service, including 13 years as Inspector General and 29 years of active service in the U.S. Marine Corps, from which he retired as a Brigadier General in 2006. Mr. Scovel is DOT’s sixth and longest serving Inspector General. Appointed by President George W. Bush and sworn in on October 26, 2006, he has served under three presidents and is recognized as a leader across the Federal accountability community, including the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. As DOT’s Inspector General, Mr. Scovel directed a staff of more than 400 employees to provide the Secretary of Transportation and Congress with independent and objective reviews of the Department’s operations and programs.
During his 13-year tenure, the Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG) helped the country realize a safer, more efficient, and more effective national transportation system. DOT-OIG’s groundbreaking audits and investigations have homed in on fraud, waste, and abuse and led the Department to implement numerous safety enhancements. Mr. Scovel was also frequently sought for his independent and evidence-based insights into the Department’s safety and management challenges. During his time as Inspector General, he appeared as a witness in 76 hearings before oversight and appropriations committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.When announcing his retirement, Mr. Scovel stated that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer and is retiring to focus on his treatment and his family. “I leave my office with unbounded pride in all that our staff has accomplished on behalf of the Department and the American people,” said Mr. Scovel.
Highlights of Mr. Scovel’s Impact at the U.S. Department of TransportationAs Inspector General, Mr. Scovel’s first and top priority was enhancing the safety of our Nation’s transportation system and protecting the traveling public. His leadership ensured that DOT-OIG remained an independent and unflinching advocate for enhancing aviation safety. In April 2008, following his office’s investigation and reviews stemming from a whistleblower complaint, Mr. Scovel testified before the House Transportation Committee regarding serious weaknesses in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) oversight of Southwest Airlines. As a result of DOT-OIG’s work, the airline was assessed a $10.2 million penalty, and FAA made several changes to its air carrier oversight, including establishing an internal Audit and Evaluation office to objectively address inspector complaints. Following the 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407, which resulted in 50 fatalities (the deadliest crash of a U.S.-based commercial aircraft in recent history), Mr. Scovel directed DOT-OIG’s oversight of FAA’s implementation of the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010. Mr. Scovel’s office recommended steps to help FAA further improve airline safety in the wake of the crash. Since 2011, DOT-OIG has also recommended improvements to FAA’s Organization Designation Authorization program, through which the Department delegates certain oversight tasks, such as certification, to approved entities.
Under Mr. Scovel’s leadership, DOT-OIG’s work has also led to safety improvements in surface transportation and infrastructure, including railroads, commercial motor carriers, bridges and tunnels, passenger vehicles, pipelines, and more. Mr. Scovel received the Secretary’s Outstanding Achievement Gold Medal for leading DOT-OIG’s support of the Department’s recovery effort after the August 2007 collapse of the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His office also investigated the fatal collapse of the I-90 connector tunnel in Boston, Massachusetts—work that resulted in the recovery of more than $450 million from the management and design consultants of the multibillion-dollar “Big Dig” project in 2008. In addition, Mr. Scovel’s office has issued numerous recommendations that improved the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s ability to identify vehicle safety defects and recall defective vehicles and components that endanger the traveling public. In a related effort, Mr. Scovel and his office directed the landmark criminal investigation into Takata Corporation’s sales of defective airbag inflators; in 2017, the company was convicted on wire fraud charges and sentenced to pay a criminal penalty of $1 billion.
In the area of pipeline safety, Mr. Scovel’s office initiated a criminal investigation after the 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California, that killed eight people. In 2017, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E)—California’s largest utility company—was found guilty of multiple willful violations of the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968 and obstructing an agency proceeding. As a result of this unprecedented conviction, PG&E was ordered to pay a maximum fine of $3 million; implement safety monitoring and ethics programs; run a $3 million TV and radio advertising campaign publicizing the conviction; and perform 10,000 hours of community service, among other penalties.
While fulfilling his primary safety enhancement mission, Mr. Scovel simultaneously demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to improving the Department’s stewardship of taxpayer dollars. Over the years, he has overseen investigations and program audits that have led to substantial improvements in the integrity and efficiency of DOT’s programs and oversight of multibillion-dollar acquisitions. As a result, DOT-OIG has long provided a lasting return-on-investment for the taxpayer, returning an average of $22 for every dollar appropriated to DOT-OIG since Mr. Scovel’s appointment as Inspector General. Notably, Mr. Scovel directed DOT-OIG’s efforts to safeguard more than $48 billion in transportation infrastructure funding as part of the economic stimulus package provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). This included serving as Vice Chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board to provide transparency and prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse of ARRA funds. Throughout his tenure, Mr. Scovelhas led his office in independent investigations of numerous ethical violations to root out bad actors and corruption across the Department and related entities. This included work that led to the creation of an independent auditing organization for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority in 2012.
Over his 13 years as Inspector General, Mr. Scovel exhibited extraordinary leadership that has left an indelible mark on the dedicated public servants of DOT-OIG and its culture. He personally championed and exemplified the “Mission First, People Always” vision that inspired DOT-OIG to serve as a model Federal agency whose workplace culture both values its people and strives tocontinuously improve performance. As a result of Mr. Scovel’s direct efforts and leadership, DOT-OIG has become one of the best places to work in the Federal Government, as measured annually by the Partnership for Public Service. Military Service in the U.S. Marine CorpsMr. Scovel joined DOT-OIG in 2006 after 29 years of active service in the U.S. Marine Corps, from which he retired as a Brigadier General. His last military assignment was as a senior judge on the U.S. Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals. He previously served in assignments as Chief Defense Counsel of the Marine Corps and as Assistant Judge Advocate General of the Navy for Military Justice, the principal advisor to the Secretary of the Navy and the Judge Advocate General on all criminal justice policy matters. He also commanded a military police battalion that provided security and law enforcement for Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia. Mr. Scovel served as senior legal advisor for the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which included all Marine amphibious forces in Operation Desert Storm, and later in a NATO exercise above the Arctic Circle in Norway. He had previously served as legal advisor for a Marine amphibious unit deployed to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, where it conducted exercises in Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, Kenya, and Australia.
A Marine judge advocate, Mr. Scovel served as prosecutor, defense counsel, or judge in 250 courts-martial that included charges of murder, rape, child sexual assault, and drug trafficking. As an adjunct faculty member for the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies, he led instruction teams in the rule of law and civil-military relations for senior civilian and
4 military officials in Honduras, Mauritius, Albania, and Serbia. He was in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. His military awards include the Legion of Merit (four awards) and Combat Action Ribbon. Mr. Scovel received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his juris doctor degree from Duke University School of Law. He also received a master’s degree from the Naval War College.
About the Office of Inspector General: The Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG) was established by law in 1978 to provide the Secretary and Congress with independent and objective reviews of the efficiency and effectiveness of U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) operations and programs and to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. DOT-OIG’s staff works to support DOT’s priorities of transportation safety and effective program delivery and performance.For more information about Mr. Scovel’s extensive career, impact, and retirement, as well as the Office of Inspector General and other matters, please contact the DOT-OIG Office of Government and Public Affairs at (202) 366-8751.