Maj. Gen. Dunlop created toxic environment in top secret program office, IG finds


Summary generated on August 18, 2020

    Maj. Gen. Dawn Dunlop also once grabbed a subordinate's hand without consent and scolded her over a "Minor issue," the IG's investigator said in a January 2020 report, obtained by Air Force Times via the Freedom of Information Act.

    Dunlop was removed from her position as director of the Special Access Programs Control Office, or SAPCO, on May 31, 2019, by Ellen Lord, the Pentagon's top acquisition official, amid reports that she had created a toxic work environment.

    Dunlop now serves as the Air Force's director of operational capability requirements.

    A few weeks after taking over the SAPCO office in August 2018, witnesses said Dunlop began treating subordinates there disrespectfully, according to the IG report.

    Dunlop commonly demeaned her subordinates when they failed to live up to her expectations, was unprofessionally insulting, and regularly implied they were stupid, said witnesses.

    In a statement provided to Air Force Times, Dunlop's lawyer, Gary Myers, suggested that Dunlop's efforts to reform SAPCO led to the IG complaint against her.

    "Throughout her career, Maj. Gen. Dunlop has brought a clear sense of integrity, excellence and a strong desire to serve airmen and the nation," Myers said.

    Dunlop "Has gained invaluable insight and perspective from this experience, and by reading the feelings of others clearly expressed in the IG report," Myers said.

    The report lists several incidents where Dunlop publicly berated subordinates, including by calling someone's work "Crap" in the middle of a meeting and publicly denigrate the quality of people's writing.

    Dunlop chaired the Senior SAP Working Group, which included directors of the other service's SAPCOs.

    One unidentified witness said that because of the way Dunlop acted at the meetings, members began to speak up less for fear of provoking an encounter with her.

    Several witnesses said they tried to talk to Dunlop about the way she was acting in meetings and the climate in the SAPCO office, but found her unreceptive to the feedback.

    The subordinate told investigators that Dunlop "Just went ballistic" when she found out a visitor, with whom Dunlop had a coffee appointment, was first going to stop by her office.

    Dunlop scolded the subordinate for not telling her the visitor was coming up and said she was concerned the visitor would see bare walls in her office and askew coat hangars and papers on her desk.

    The subordinate told investigators she looked at Dunlop's schedule to bring a change to her attention and Dunlop grabbed her hand and shook it "Like a child to get my attention." The altercation was witnessed by multiple people, who told investigators that Dunlop raised her voice and told the subordinate, "Look at me, look at me please."

    The subordinate said that while she was shocked, Dunlop did not grab her hand hard.

    Witnesses said Dunlop did not appear to intend to harm or scare the subordinate, though they were surprised.

    Dunlop told investigators that she was caught off-guard that the visit was about to happen, and when the subordinate continued looking at the calendar, she appeared "Lost in thought." Dunlop denied she shook the subordinate's hand, and said she touched it for five seconds at most.

    Several witnesses said it was "Completely inappropriate" and "Unbecoming" for a general officer like Dunlop to put a hand on a subordinate like that.

    The IG concluded Dunlop's confrontation with her subordinate, over a minor issue, "Compromised her standing as an officer," and caused her subordinate to recoil in shock.

    In May 2019, Dunlop provoked another senior officer to storm out of a meeting in tears.

    Dunlop was irritated because three Air Force officers had showed up to a meeting to prepare slides to brief senior military leaders, but Dunlop only thought one Air Force briefer was necessary.

    Dunlop kept prodding one unnamed senior officer repeatedly and to an uncomfortable degree, even though she was told to let the matter drop.

    The senior officer teared up in anger and told Dunlop that they were peers, and Dunlop was not to speak to her again like that, the report said.

    Dunlop continued pushing the issue in a "Mocking" fashion, as one witness described it, until the senior officer got up and stormed out.

    In a separate IG report, dated November 2019, Said substantiated an allegation that Dunlop improperly had her subordinates perform personal services for her while serving as the commander of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force at Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base in Germany from 2016 to 2018.

    Subordinates helped Dunlop by swapping out the summer tires for winter tires, and vice versa, on her personal vehicle four or five times, as well as getting an oil change done and making personal lodging arrangements.

    When Dunlop was transferring back to the United States in August 2018, a subordinate helped Dunlop get her car shipped back by driving it around until it had burned off enough fuel to qualify for shipping, and also sold her winter tires for her.

    Dunlop told investigators she didn't consider offering to pay the subordinate for her work advertising and selling the winter tires after duty hours, because the tires were a unique requirement of being stationed at Geilenkirchen.

    In his statement, Myers said that Dunlop regrets accepting those services from her subordinates, and said they were unintentional violations.