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The Pentagon’s internal watchdog is set to review its notification procedures and policies following a controversy surrounding Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s delayed communication about his hospitalization.
The announcement of this review by the office of Pentagon Inspector General Robert Storch came on Wednesday. This examination by the Defense Department’s watchdog aims to determine the adequacy of existing policies to ensure prompt and proper notifications and the seamless transition of authority during the absence of senior leadership due to health or other reasons.
The Pentagon itself is undertaking an internal 30-day review following criticism for not immediately informing President Biden, the White House, and top Pentagon officials about Austin’s hospitalization.
Additionally, the White House has directed a review of the protocols for delegating authority among Cabinet officials. Departments are now required to inform the Office of Cabinet Affairs and the White House chief of staff when a Cabinet secretary delegates their duties.
Austin’s diagnosis of prostate cancer in early December was not disclosed to President Biden until this week. Austin was hospitalized on January 1 due to a urinary tract infection stemming from his December 22 cancer surgery, spending several days in intensive care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He resumed his full duties on January 5. President Biden and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks were informed about Austin’s hospitalization on January 4 and 3, respectively, with Hicks assuming Pentagon duties from January 2 to 5.