The reason that we encourage midshipmen NOT to cooperate with the LMI study and instead to cooperate with the Self Solutions study is because of our concerns that the data collected by LMI will be twisted by DOT/MARAD for their anti-sea-year-on-commercial-ships agenda. This not-so-hidden agenda was apparent in the original RFQ, which, as we pointed out here, sought a study that proposed alternatives to sea year. After we pointed that out, DOT removed it from the RFQ and said it was a mistake and inadvertently included. Our guess is that it wasn’t a mistake and the only reason it was removed was because they were caught red handed. Then we learned from two independent sources that MARAD had asked Military Sealift Command to provide an analysis of what it would cost to train all Kings Point midshipmen on MSC ships. And, of course, no one could trust the administration to put midshipmen back on commercial ships after seeing how the Academy has
misinterpreted twisted both SAGR survey results to make it seem like there is a major problem with SA/SH during sea year as explained here and here; and how it misrepresented the Middle States accreditation report to shift the focus away from SA/SH at the Academy and instead blame sea year as explained here (and yes, my $100,000 bet is still safe). Finally, the RFQ that LMI unsurprisingly won requires LMI to report weekly to the DOT “for confirmation of direction and interim findings” (see PDF p.9 of the RFQ) and provide additional interim reports with survey “results” and “summaries of major findings” before submitting the final report. Id. In other words, DOT is given extensive power to interfere with, steer, and micromanage the result of the LMI study.
In short, this administration has given the midshipmen no reason to trust it. The fact is, as reflected in this midshipman’s letter and this comment, the midshipmen do not trust this administration to do the right thing or to be honest with the data. That said, if the data could be collected under conditions that would allow the midshipmen to have confidence that it would not be deliberately misinterpreted, we would support the collection of the data. We are not afraid of honest data. No matter what the data shows, having honest data will help point the way to a solution. So, is there a way that we could get to a point where KingsPointSentry.com could encourage midshipmen to cooperate with LMI? Is there a way that we could be convinced that the data would not be twisted? As explained below, yes, there is.
KingsPointSentry.com will continue to advocate against cooperation with LMI unless DOT takes the following steps:
- Release the SAGR reports received from the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) for 2011-12 and 2013-14. These reports are made public for the other federal academies and there is no reason to deny the midshipmen, the parents, the alumni and Congress access to these reports. The reports are the “unvarnished” survey results and include detailed data and information about the data (such as margins of error, methods of weighting data that were employed, etc.) The administration is refusing to make these reports public and instead has made public only its interpretation of those reports. There is no valid reason to refuse to make the actual reports received from DMDC public and the administration will continue to have zero credibility until they are released.
- Remove all requirements from the RFQ/contract that require LMI to provide preliminary results or related information to DOT/MARAD/USMMA. Let LMI do its work free of any input from the administration as to the “direction” it is taking.
- Modify the RFQ/contract to specify that LMI shall release its final report publicly and that the “executive briefing” shall be given in a public forum where all midshipmen may attend (rather than exclusively to DOT/MARAD and “USMMA executives”).
- Remove all requirements that compiled data (not individualized data that might breach anonymity) be kept confidential — the data must be public, so that the public can have confidence that the conclusions that are made from the data are appropriate.
- Require LMI to share its data with Self Solutions (conditioned upon Self Solutions agreeing to share its data with LMI) (Self Solutions has assured me that it is willing to do so).
We would be overjoyed if the administration would agree to the above. None of what we propose should give the administration any reason to pause — unless there is a hidden agenda. If there is no hidden agenda, there is no reason to fear transparency and independence. Transparency and independence are the key. Until then:
No Sea, No D