A member of the House Armed Services Committee is calling for an investigation of a former Army official who played a key role in the service’s struggling intelligence program and made millions of dollars in the process while allowing people to believe he earned a Ph.D. that he does not hold.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., a critic of the Army’s troubled Distributed Common Ground System, urged Army Secretary John McHugh in a letter to investigate Russell Richardson, who was both a contractor and an employee of the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command. Hunter said the probe should determine “whether he misrepresented his academic credentials and benefited from the misrepresentation in any way.”
Hunter also wants the Army to examine Richardson’s “influence over the contracting process, and whether his relationship with the Army at any time presented a conflict of interest — which I believe to be the case.” The letter was obtained by The Associated Press.
“We have received the letter and will respond to Rep. Hunter appropriately,” Army spokesman Lt. Col. Donald Peters said in a statement.
Richardson has said he did nothing wrong and did not misrepresent his educational credentials. He declined to comment for this story.
The AP reported last week that after working for years as a contractor advising Army officials on the intelligence gathering system known as DCGS-A, Richardson was paid more than $13 million, according to information he provided, from the sale of a small firm that had been awarded contracts related to the program. He continued to own stock in the parent company and went to work as a federal civilian employee in the role of science adviser to the Army Intelligence and Security Command. In that role, he wrote requirements that led to contracts with a variety of companies, including the one with which he had a financial relationship.
The Army said it was legal because he had recused himself from direct dealings involving the firm. A previous investigation by the Army inspector general into Richardson’s role as an Army adviser resulted in no action, several current and former government officials said.
The AP also reported that Richardson for years had been portrayed in documents, on websites and on an Army biography as holding a doctorate from Ohio State University, a degree he acknowledges he does not have.
Richardson said he could not explain why the website of the company he led and co-owned, among other documents, listed him as holding a doctorate.
As science adviser, Richardson was a key architect of a program called Red Disk, which was envisioned as a cloud computing component of DCGS-A, a system designed to allow easy access to a variety of intelligence products across the Army.
Hunter, in his letter to the Army secretary, said he was told by the Army that Red Disk “was under development by a credible team, with high technical proficiency, and that Red Disk would be operational by early-2014.”
Instead, he said, “Red Disk has failed; Mr. Richardson does not hold a Ph.D. calling into question the technical expertise that guided the program, and DCGS-A still lacks the necessary elements that Red Disk attempted to deliver. All of this corresponds with more wasted time and money — money entrusted to the Army by the taxpayer.”