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Darrell L. Peck

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22a)

Career Accomplishments of Darrell L. Peck
(Dr. Joseph Peck’s father)
PRESS RELEASE (April 28, 1994)

Darrell L. PeckMr. Darrell L. Peck retired on April 30, 1994, after nearly 39 years of Government service. He had served as Deputy General Counsel in the Office of the Secretary of the Army since January 1979 and attained the highest level of the Senior Executive Service. The Secretary of the Army awarded Mr. Peck the Distinguished (Civilian) Service Medal, the highest civilian decoration within his authority.

Before becoming Deputy General Counsel, Mr. Peck had more than 23 years of military service in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps. During that service, he had been both a Division and a Corps Staff Judge Advocate, Director of the Academic Department at The Judge Advocate General’s School, and Chief of the Administrative Law Division in the Office of The Judge Advocate General. In addition to the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star he was awarded in Vietnam, he had received numerous honors and awards for exceptional academic achievement, professional writing, and outstanding military service, including a second Legion of Merit upon his retirement in the grade of Colonel.

As Deputy General Counsel, Mr. Peck has made an immeasurable contribution to the Army, not only by providing the highest quality legal advice, but also in the formulation of Army-wide policies, procedures, and programs in an extremely wide variety of areas.

Unquestionably, the single area for which Mr. Peck is most widely renowned is Government ethics. He was the Army’s Designated Agency Ethics Official and served as overall manager of the Army’s ethics program for over 15 years, planning and directing the program since the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 first took effect. Under his direction, the Army’s program has been widely recognized as among the best, Government-wide. Many of its features have been adopted by the Department of Defense and other departments. Demonstrating his recognized preeminence in this area, he is the only person invited to chair a panel at every national Government Ethics conference, from the first in 1980 through its latest in 1993. He was invited by the Senate staff to present his ideas for ameliorating the harsher consequences of the 1988 Procurement Integrity Law, and his suggestions were the basis of most of the changes later passed by Congress. When Congress decided to revise the ethics laws, his recommendations led to amendments making the new Ethics Reform Act of 1989 more practical. These contributions have benefited the entire Executive Branch.

Throughout his tenure, his ethics advice to successive Secretaries of the Army and other top Army officials has been crucial in protecting them and the Army from potential embarrassment. He has been an important player in the appointment process for civilian Presidential appointees to top Army positions, dealing with the White House, the Office of Government Ethics, and the Senate, as well as prospective nominees, to ensure a smooth confirmation process. He has guided departing officials through the thicket of restrictions relating to their departure and future employment.

He also is recognized as one of the country’s foremost experts on military personnel law, particularly in the area of officer promotions. He has often played a leading role in the formulation of the Department of Defense’s position on military personnel issues, as well as the Army’s. He has made important contributions to the smooth functioning of the officer promotion system, particularly on sensitive issues involving general officers. He has been especially active in developing fairer procedures to promote equal opportunity for women and minorities and for handling adverse information. When Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm triggered an avalanche of concerns about military personnel laws, he was instrumental in developing and implementing measures to get the job done.

Litigation for which he was responsible frequently entailed large sums of money. For example, in two major groups of cases involving military officers, solutions he proposed eventually ended massive litigation which threatened to cost the Army billions of dollars in unwarranted back pay and retirement costs. Just as often, the cases involved important policies or the Army’s ability to carry out essential programs.

While he has been recognized as one of the Department of Defense’s leading experts in subject areas such as Government ethics and military personnel law, the breadth of his responsibilities, like his execution of them, has been truly remarkable. These included:

  • Implementation of the Panama Canal Treaty and resolution of many sensitive problems arising from the changed status of the Canal Zone.
  • Military assistance to civil authorities, including law enforcement; drug interdiction; natural disasters; civil unrest; Presidential inaugurations; and the Olympics.
  • Ensuring the legality and propriety of intelligence activities
  • Disposal of hazardous munitions, chemicals and other materials
  • The authority of the Secretary of the Army and other senior officials
  • Travel and transportation issues
  • Many issues relating to Arlington Cemetery, including the rules preventing demonstrations
  • Developing humane standards for human experimentation
  • Negotiating a breakthrough with the U.S. Postal Service, ending a 20 year impasse and giving the Department of Defense authority over mail security overseas
  • The Army’s implementation of the Civil Service Reform Act and of the Senior Executive Service system
  • Gifts to the Army, numbering in the thousands and worth millions of dollars
  • Use of water from Corps of Engineers reservoirs, where the legal position he developed was cited by U.S. Supreme Court as the basis of its decision
  • The reorganization of the Department of the Army under the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act
  • Freedom of Information policy, where he tenaciously led the fight against Department of Defense adoption of a policy to release lists of military personnel to commercial solicitors, a position subsequently vindicated by the U.S. Supreme Court

He has had the unique experience of heading a total of six special task forces and study groups at the personal direction of the Secretary of the Army. In addition, he has served as a personal trouble-shooter for the Secretary of the Army on numerous occasions.

Darrell Peck

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