Spoiler alert: Because my source’s data was accurate.
Two weeks ago, in a deliberately provocative post entitled “84% of all MARAD employees who testify before Congress commit perjury,” I posted accurate — and extraordinarily disappointing — data about the progress of the restoration of sea year for KP midshipmen. In that post I asserted that Acting Maritime Administrator Szabat’s testimony to Congress about the “progress” made towards restoration of sea yea was “not remotely accurate.” I stated that I was very confident in my data, but acknowledged that because of MARAD’s lack of transparency, it was possible that my data was wrong. So I made an open offer to MARAD:
I will correct [my post] if any errors are called to my attention. Bottom line is that I am very confident that the overall picture that this data presents is far more accurate than MARAD’s data. But, I’ll invite MARAD to prove me wrong: If MARAD will provide a list of every ship presently carrying USMMA midshipman and the number of USMMA midshipman on each ship, I will gladly publish it on this blog. I can assure you that MARAD can easily put its hands on such a list.
MARAD has not taken me up on this offer. In fact, this is all I’ve heard from MARAD:
Ask yourself this: Why won’t MARAD release the actual data? The Academy Training Representatives know the names of all ships that are carrying USMMA midshipmen and how many midshipmen are on each ship. They have this information at their fingertips — their job requires them to know every ship that has midshipmen on it.
Szabat testified before Congress that “Collectively, the companies that have been approved, or are applying [N.B. for approval to host USMMA midshipmen on their ships], represent 84 percent of the commercial Sea Year training provided before the suspension.” I demonstrated in the “commit perjury” post that this statistic was meaningless. Best case scenario for Szabat: he inadvertently left Congress with a misunderstanding of the true nature of the restoration of sea year. Worst case scenario: He deliberately misled Congress. Either way, it is incumbent upon him to correct the record. He should correct the record with Congress and he should make that correction public. It’s the least we should expect from the Executive Director of MARAD and its Acting Maritime Administrator. And if he won’t be accountable to Congress, then Congress should demand that he be held accountable. It should insist that Secretary of Transportation Chao hold him accountable or it should take advantage of its recently revived rule and hold him directly accountable by cutting his pay to one dollar per year.
‘Should” is the operative word in your argument, however, why should MARAD do anything at all given their ‘success’ this past year? Academy management remains unaccountable, the AAF remains AWOL, insofar as presenting a public unified front, and the kabuki dance that has been going on between MARAD, Academy officials, MACHE, the SAPR Working Group, etc. is an example of the ‘bureaucracy gone wild’.
Your persistence is admirable but no one in MARAD with the requisite responsibility, authority and accountability is reading this blog and, if they are, they are simply ignoring the discourse presented or are unwilling to stand up and take charge.
MARAD employees should be scurrying to be more transparent because a new Maritime Administrator is unlikely to look kindly on those employees who have been giving out inaccurate information to Congress and thereby tarring all of MARAD with a bad name. My guess is that those who are continuing to try to further the momentum from the last administration are probably in for a rude awakening. If they are smart, they’ll start changing now rather than trying to hold on as long as possible. That’s why they should alter their behavior.
As for whether anyone within MARAD with responsibility is reading this blog, I can assure you that they are. Two different sources have told me that the last few posts have hit a raw nerve in MARAD and have folks there really angry at me. To which I respond, “Good, that’s how I know I’m on target.” (And if they were angry because they felt I posted something that was incorrect, all they would need to do is contact me and I would correct it, so we know that’s not why they are angry.) FYI, the blog is also regularly read on The Hill as well.
Quite correct, Andy.
Whenever a percentage is used, one should ask “percentage of what (number)?”
Then the parsing of numbers can truly begin.
It might be 84% of respondent companies were approved, rather than the percentage of all ships in the original U.S. fleet hosting USMMA cadets, a number which I would presume is much, much lower.