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McCaskill says there are thousands of mislabeled graves at Arlington National Cemetery

A U.S. Senate oversight subcommittee led by U.S. Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill has found there could be thousands of mislabeled graves at Arlington National Cemetery.

McCaskill stopped in Columbia Monday to discuss some of the committee’s initial findings. She said contracting problems, mismanagement and lack of oversight has left thousands of fallen heroes in the wrong place.

“Tombstones have been misplaced. Cremated remains have ended up in landfills. All of the things you cannot imagine happening to a man or a woman who has stood up for their country in uniform and paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

One reason that happened is because all the burial records are on paper, despite a $5.5 million investment on IT contracts to incorporate an electronic system.

McCaskill said that was a waste of money.

“What that five million dollars was supposed to buy was a very straightforward and simple software system,” said McCaskill. “It would keep track of who was buried where. And, that clearly has failed, so we did not get anything for our investment.”

The Senate subcommittee will meet Thursday to further its investigation, and develop a plan to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

McCaskill said there shouldn’t be concern about the management of other national cemeteries, like the one in Jefferson City, Mo. because the Veterans Affairs department (VA) manages them. She says the VA has a very effective management model in place and that she’d like to see Arlington National Cemetery utilize the same system.

Last update: July 26, 2010, 4:08 p.m.

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