Did USAID/OIG Retaliates Against an Auditor Alleging $120 Million Waste?

Posted: 12:18  am ET
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The Foreign Service Grievance Board (FSGB) wants to know.

In December, it granted the unnamed auditor’s (the charged employee) Motion for Additional Discovery. USAID/OIG was ordered to produce the investigation files of both Mr. REDACTED and Ms. Lisa Mcclendon, the Deputy Assistant IG for Investigations at USAID OIG. Below is a quick summary of this case extracted from the publicly available records of the FSGB:

REDACTED, was employed by the United States Agency for International Development in the Office of the Inspector General (USAID OIG, agency) as a financial auditor in REDACTED from 2009 to 2011. During that time, she was assigned, inter alia, to audit two USAID programs (a REDACTED HIV/AIDs program in 2010 and a REDACTED Family Planning/Contraceptives program in 2011). The charged employee stated that she was prepared to make negative findings about both programs, alleging a waste of $120 million and $100 thousand dollars in each program, respectively. The OIG responded that the employee’s audit manager,REDACTED, and the Regional Inspector General, REDACTED, overruled her negative findings on grounds that they were erroneous and/or did not need to be included in the audit reports.

On June 9, 2011, an anonymous or confidential complaint was delivered to the REDACTED USAID OIG office, stating that the charged employee was submitting partially false vouchers for two-way education transportation reimbursement, because her husband was driving the children to school in the mornings. REDACTED, an investigator in REDACTED received the complaint and after consulting with an Assistant Special Agent in Charge in Washington, D.C., REDACTED, arranged for a Regional Security Officer (RSO) to follow Mr. REDACTED in the mornings to confirm that he was driving the children to school. The investigator also requested copies of the education transportation vouchers that showed that Ms. REDACTED had requested reimbursement for the cost of transporting the children to and from school.

Several weeks later, Lisa McClennon, the Deputy Assistant IG for Investigations, traveled to REDACTED allegedly for a routine site visit. When she arrived and reviewed the pending investigations, she testified that she concluded that REDACTED investigation “had not progressed.”2 She took over the investigation, interviewed more than a dozen witnesses and requested a large number of financial documents that Ms. REDACTED had submitted for reimbursement. Ms. McClennon stated that when she reviewed the documents and interviewed the witnesses, she concluded that the employee had submitted a number of false vouchers for reimbursement of educational travel expenses, a number of requests for cost of living allowance (COLA) payments to which she was allegedly not entitled, and a request for larger housing to which she was also allegedly not entitled.

(Note: WHOA! — requesting larger housing is against the rules? Isn’t that for the Housing Board to decide on entitlement? Active link and emphasis added above).

Ms. McClennon reported her findings to Mr. Carroll in Washington. He ordered Ms. REDACTED immediate curtailment, despite the fact that at that time she was away from post with her family. In addition, Mr. Carroll proposed to separate Ms. REDACTED from the Service for cause. After reviewing written and oral replies from the charged employee, Mr. Carroll recommended in a letter, dated August 3, 2012, that the employee be separated for cause.3  Ms. REDACTED responded to the recommendation by arguing that the investigation and the resultant charges were retaliatory based on her status as a whistleblower when she attempted to report negative findings in the REDACTED and REDACTED audits.
[…]
Before the Board was able to issue a final order,5 however, the employee filed a motion on November 14, 2014, advising the Board that Mr. Carroll had withdrawn his name from consideration for the position of IG and the President had formally withdrawn his name from consideration by Congress on November 12, 2014.6 The motion sought leave to file a supplemental pleading and to reopen discovery based on newspaper articles that reported that  Mr. Carroll was accused by OIG auditors (not including Ms. REDACTED of putting pressure on them to modify audit reports in order to delete negative findings about USAID. In addition, the charged employee requested the opportunity to depose Mssrs.REDACTED  and REDACTED.

The footnotes:

  • The Board initially came to the conclusion that Mr. Carroll did not have authority to prosecute this matter because his term as Acting IG expired before he recommended Ms. REDACTED for separation. The case was then dismissed. However, in 2013, Mr. Carroll was nominated to be the IG for USAID. Thus, he again became the Acting IG, pursuant to the Federal Vacancy Reform Act (FVRA) of 1998, 5 U.S.C. § 3345 et seq. As Acting IG, Mr. Carroll ratified his earlier recommendation to separate Ms. REDACTED for cause and the grievance appeal was reinstated.

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Career @StateDept Nominees Remain Stuck in Senate Confirmation Purgatory

Posted: 12:15  am ET
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Senators hope to rename some more streets?

President Obama’s nominations of eight career diplomats for ambassadorships and one development professional for an assistant administrator position for USAID remain stuck in the Senate as of Friday, May 13, 2016. The nominee for Ambassador to APEC has now waited for over 220 days. The nominees for the Marshall Islands and Micronesia have each waited over 190 days.

The Senate’s second session calendar is getting shorter. It will be on recess from May 30 – June 3 (Memorial Day); July 1 – 5 (Fourth of July); July 18 – September 5th (reconvene Tuesday September 6);  and has the target pre-election adjournment on October 7th.

This has now become the new normal.  Even non-controversial career diplomats routinely get stuck for months in confirmation purgatory.  What crises would nudge these senators to confirm these nominees? Wasn’t there a U.S. airstrike west of the Somali capital of Mogadishu this past week?  A coup somewhere? A hurricane?

Maybe some senators hope to rename some more streets in exchange for the confirmation of these ambassador nominees?

This must be laughable to look at from overseas. Here is the United States, a global power, and this is how our Senate functions; must be quite simply the envy of the world 🙃.

But in this article about Merrick Garland’s nomination for SCOTUS, part of “Confirmations: The Battle Over the Constitution,” and also relevant to ambassador-rank appointments, the author Michael D. Ramsey — a Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law and a former judicial clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia — notes:

The relevant text is the appointments clause of Article II, Section 2, which provides: “[The president] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States…” This language makes the Senate’s consent a prerequisite to presidential appointments, but it does not place any duty on the Senate to act nor describe how it should proceed in its decision-making process. Even if the word “shall” in the clause is read as mandatory, “shall” refers only to things the president does. Instead, the Senate’s core role in appointments is as a check on the president, which it exercises by not giving consent—a choice it can make simply by not acting. 
[…]
The Senate’s practice, under both Democrats and Republicans, shows that it thinks the appointments clause does not impose a duty to take formal action.

It remains to be seen if these executive nominees will survive the Senate obstacle course this year.

The 2016 Election Day is in 175 days.

PN933 | Robert Annan Riley III, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federated States of Micronesia

PN934 | Karen Brevard Stewart, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Marshall Islands

PN895 | Matthew John Matthews, of Oregon, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as United States Senior Official for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum.

PN1041 | Adam H. Sterling, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Slovak Republic.

PN1054 | Kelly Keiderling-Franz, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

PN1055 | Stephen Michael Schwartz, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Somalia.

PN1154 | Christine Ann Elder, of Kentucky, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Liberia.

PN1155 | Elizabeth Holzhall Richard, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Lebanese Republic.

PN1139 | R. David Harden, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

 

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Congress to require @StateDept to report on diversity recruitment, employment, retention, and promotion

Posted: 12:12  am ET
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About time, too!

For years we’re been looking at the State Department to make available publicly its diversity statistics, most particularly the gender and race component of its promotion statistics (see related posts below). Somebody from Secretary Kerry’s office once told us he would look into it and then we never heard anything back despite periodic reminders.  For whatever reason, the State Department has no interest to make its gender and race promotion statistics available publicly. Data is available annually, but it remains behind the firewall. Which is rather curious.

Congress has now included a reporting requirement for the State Department’s diversity recruitment, employment, retention, and promotion.  The requirement is included in S.1635 Department of State Operations Authorization and Embassy Security Act, Fiscal Year 2016 which was passed by the Senate by unanimous consent on April 28, 2016. (See Whoa! Senate Passes @StateDept Operations Authorization and Embassy Security Act, FY2016). Since this reporting requirement is mandated by Congress, if this becomes law, the promotion stats, can no longer be shielded behind the firewall.  The report has to be submitted no later than 180 days after the Act is enacted, and the information required includes the 3 fiscal years immediately preceding the fiscal year in which the report is submitted.

Sec. 218. Report on diversity recruitment, employment, retention, and promotion.

(a) In General.–Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and quadrennially thereafter, the Secretary of State shall submit a comprehensive report to Congress that–

(1) describes the efforts, consistent with existing law, including procedures, effects, and results of the Department since the period covered by the prior such report, to promote equal opportunity and inclusion for all American employees in direct hire and personal service contractors status, particularly employees of the Foreign Service, to include equal opportunity for all races, ethnicities, ages, genders, and service-disabled veterans, with a focus on traditionally underrepresented minority groups;

(2) includes a section on–

(A) the diversity of selection boards;

(B) the employment of minority and service-disabled veterans during the most recent 10-year period, including–

(i) the number hired through direct hires, internships, and fellowship programs;

(ii) the number promoted to senior positions, including FS-01, GS-15, Senior Executive Service, and Senior Foreign Service; and

(iii) attrition rates by grade, civil and foreign services, and the senior level ranks listed in clause (ii);

(C) mentorship and retention programs; and

(3) is organized in terms of real numbers and percentages at all levels.

(b) Contents.–Each report submitted under subsection (a) shall describe the efforts of the Department–

[[Page S2590]]

(1) to propagate fairness, impartiality, and inclusion in the work environment domestically and abroad;

(2) to eradicate harassment, intolerance, and discrimination;

(3) to refrain from engaging in unlawful discrimination in any phase of the employment process, including recruitment, hiring, evaluation, assignments, promotion, retention, and training;

(4) to eliminate illegal retaliation against employees for participating in a protected equal employment opportunity activity;

(5) to provide reasonable accommodation for qualified employees and applicants with disabilities;

(6) to resolve workplace conflicts, confrontations, and complaints in a prompt, impartial, constructive, and timely manner;

(7) to improve demographic data availability and analysis regarding recruitment, hiring, promotion, training, length in service, assignment restrictions, and pass-through programs;

(8) to recruit a diverse staff by–

(A) recruiting women, minorities, veterans, and undergraduate and graduate students;

(B) recruiting at historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, women’s colleges, and colleges that typically serve majority minority populations;

(C) sponsoring and recruiting at job fairs in urban communities;

(D) placing job advertisements in newspapers, magazines, and job sites oriented toward women and people of color;

(E) providing opportunities through the Foreign Service Internship Program and other hiring initiatives; and

(F) recruiting mid- and senior-level professionals through programs such as–

(i) the International Career Advancement Program;

(ii) the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program;

(iii) the Institute for International Public Policy Fellowship Program;

(iv) Seminar XXI at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies; and

(v) other similar, highly respected, international leadership programs; and

(9) to provide opportunities through–

(A) the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship Program;

(B) the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program; and

(C) the Donald M. Payne International Development Fellowship Program.

(c) Scope of Initial Report.–The first report submitted to Congress under this section shall include the information described in subsection (b) for the 3 fiscal years immediately preceding the fiscal year in which the report is submitted.

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Related posts: 

 

 

 

#DefeatingDaesh News Front: Social Media as “Transformational” Tool, Covert Propaganda

Posted: 12:04  am ET
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Meanwhile, across the pond —

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