‘Lax’ State Department Ignores Watchdog’s Orders to Toughen Disciplinary Rules
U.S. Department of State officials are ignoring multiple recommendations from their agency’s independent watchdog to toughen employee disciplinary policies.
The State Department Office of Inspector General (IG) reported Friday that when its investigators did a follow-up review nine months after their original assessment in December 2014, they found that none of their recommendations had been fully implemented. Some of the most important recommendations weren’t implemented at all.
“It comes down to leadership and culture, and I think that was extremely lax at State Department” under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Jim Waurishuk, former deputy director of intelligence for the U.S. Central Command, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Handling classified information and taking ethical conduct seriously are hand-in-hand and like “riding a bike” for experienced military members and other national security professionals, said Waurishuk, who served on the National Security Council under President George H.W. Bush.
The lack of a Senate-confirmed IG to police the State Department for five years — Clinton’s entire tenure — says something of the Obama administration and State Department’s attitude towards taking discipline seriously, Waurishuk said.
“You want an IG, someone whispering in your ear saying you’re on the wrong track here,” Waurishuk said.
Department officials still have yet to establish a recusal policy to avoid conflicts of interest in administering discipline; aren’t considering past misconduct in evaluating employees for tenure and promotion decisions in the Foreign Service; haven’t updated guides for Foreign Service and civil service supervisors to include the latest department guidance on disciplinary issues; and have yet to establish procedures for evaluating bureaus’ performance on disciplining employees. That leaves four major of the nine recommendations incomplete.
“OIG determined that implementation was still pending, in varying stages, for the nine recommendations issued in the review of the Department of State disciplinary process, as of the beginning of this compliance follow-up review,” the follow-up report says.
The State Department has a history of misconduct reports and obstructing its watchdog from investigating misconduct.
CBS in 2013 obtained an internal State Department IG memo, which said State Department officials influenced, manipulated, or called off several investigations. Those cases included allegations that a State Department security official in Lebanon engaged in sexual assaults on foreign nationals working at the embassy, and allegations that members of Clinton’s security detail engaged prostitutes on official trips. Senior State Department officials in 2011 also halted an investigation of alleged sex solicitation by a U.S. Ambassador, according to the IG.
More than 41,000 people work for the State Department, according to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Of those, only 0.16 percent of GS 11-15 workers were fired in 2013, according to OPM data obtained by the Cato Institute.
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