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Defense Department: No mismanagement in MIA-search program

March 7, 1997

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ The Defense Department found no evidence of financial mismanagement in its program to look for Americans still missing in Vietnam, the San Jose Mercury News reported Thursday.

The Pentagon’s finding, released Wednesday, was prompted by an investigation by the newspaper. The Mercury News reported last spring that the Vietnamese government was overcharging the U.S. for its help and keeping money intended for laborers. Vietnam has denied those allegations.

The Defense Department, which conducted a five-month probe, said it found ``no evidence of program mismanagement.″ It said it found ``reasonable management controls″ and adequate documentation of expenses.

``It’s what we’ve been saying all along,″ said Lt. Col. Jon Chase, commander of the program’s detachment in Hanoi.

But the report did not account for U.S. money once it is paid to Vietnam. The Pentagon said it has no control over how the Vietnamese government spends millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to help the search for missing soldiers’ remains.

More than 1,500 servicemen are still listed as missing in action in Southeast Asia. Legally, they are considered dead, but the U.S. government continues to seek a full accounting of them.

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