Topic: Society

Michael DeCort
(August 2006)

Let us begin by saying that we cannot know at this moment if Mike DeCort is correct in the allegations he has made about inferior workmanship and insufficient quality control on the part of Lockheed-Martin in its security upgrades of U.S. Coastguard vessels. What we do know is that he has been willing to go extraordinary lengths and has accepted immense professional risk to make his concerns public. That is sufficient to qualify DeCort as an Ethics Hero.

When DeCort, a former Lockheed Martin project manager and engineer, found that he could get no action on his claims after bringing them to Lockheed management, the Navy, and Congress, he put a videotape of himself telling his story on YouTube, the popular internet site usually frequented by teenagers wanting to download the “Numa Numa Dance” and other odd videos. He says he didn’t expect his desperation tactic to work. But a reporter from the Navy Times saw his video and wrote about it. Suddenly the Homeland Security inspector general is investigating, and the Coast Guard is paying attention as well. DeCort had every reason to drop the matter, except one: he believed lives were at stake, and he was the only person who could fix a serious problem of national concern.

In the process, he discovered a new way for whistleblowers to get their stories to the public. Maybe the facts will show that Michael DeCort was mistaken after all, but his courage and willingness to take responsibility for addressing an apparent problem not of his making is certain to benefit the public in the future.

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