Washington, D.C, 27 August, 1999 (GulfLINK) � The Presidential Special Oversight Board for Department of Defense Investigations of Gulf War Chemical and Biological Incidents released today its Interim Report to the Secretary of Defense.

The report provides an overview of the board's mission, charter and activities of the past year. It also presents observations of DoD's reports and related actions and provides recommendations for future actions.

The seven-member board was appointed by President Clinton in April 1998 and tasked to perform independent oversight of the Defense Department to "ensure full public accountability and reinforce the commitment to an independent review." The board, chaired by the former U.S. Senator Warren B. Rudman, first met in July 1998. At that time, DoD staff briefed members on the history and background of Gulf War related issues.

Since that first meeting, the board has held public hearings in Washington, D.C., San Antonio, Texas, and Arlington, Va., and conducted monthly informational meetings with subject-matter experts, interested individuals, and knowledgeable organizations. The board also extended an open invitation to veterans and military service organization to attend these sessions, the report says.

"In the past year, the Special Oversight Board has provided expert advice and counsel. Staff members have reviewed our process and products and offered pragmatic recommendations to improve our effort to serve Gulf War veterans," said Bernard Rostker, the special assistant for Gulf War illnesses. "We will carefully review the report and respond to the board as quickly as we can."

The board will hold its next public meeting in Seattle, Wash, in October and will host a final public meeting in Washington, D.C. in April of next year. The board's Final Report will be published in May 2000. Transcripts of all the public hearings are posted on the board's web site (http://www.oversight.ncr.gov ).