By Patricia H Kushlis
Update August 26, 2014
Is there a reason that Bill Fitzgibbons - the apparent Hotline Coordinator in the office of the State Department’s Inspector General - e-mailed Joan Wadelton on July 3, 2014 at 2:07 in the afternoon just as the US government was shutting down for the July 4 holiday weekend to notify her that the IG’s office had decided to close its investigation of her case against the Department’s Bureau of Human Resources for lack of additional evidence?
And then on Friday July 18 at 11:59 pm (one minute before midnight) responded to her request for supporting documents (see e-mail exchange below) with what one could only consider the most cursory brush-off again via an OIG Hotline e-mail?
Is this how State’s OIG normally deals with cases involving serious charges of fraud which have been in litigation for years?
I realize all too well that the State Department contains far too many hyper careerist staff - especially in the geographic bureaus - for whom burning the midnight oil is considered routine – often for reasons of careerism – but these recent Hotline e-mails to Joan from the IG’s office both sent at weird hours and in unusual fonts – one in dark blue Times Roman, the other in black Arial bold/italic - make no sense at least as displays of professionalism by this country’s oldest bureaucracy.
They suggest to me that at the very least, IG Steve Linick should investigate his own staff for: 1) lack of professionalism; 2) peculiar working hours (the IG’s Office is not the 24-Hour Operations Center Watch, the Executive Secretariat or the geographic bureaus after all); and 3) overwork. Neither OIG Hotline email, by the by, was even signed – with real or otherwise signatures. Furthermore, no paperwork has thus far followed.
The Hotline Correspondence
Here, for the record, is a copy of the Hotline correspondence I received from Joan with the most recent e-mail first. (Note: I removed her personal e-mail address for privacy reasons. Also note the dark blue font color used for the body of the text of Fitgibbons July 18 message):
From: OIG Hotline (State) <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2014 11:59 PM
Subject: RE: Complaint Regarding Problems in The Department of State's Bureau of Human Resources
Thank you for your recent follow-up submission to the OIG Hotline. The Office of Inspector General does not routinely disclose the results of OIG Hotline complaint inquires. Should you wish to do so, you may submit a Freedom of Information Act request regarding your inquiry to:
U.S. Department of State
Office of Inspector General
Office of General Counsel
Washington, DC 20520-0308
ATTN: FOIA officer
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also fax your request to (202) 663-0390.
Be advised that OIG plans no further action on these matters other than what I have stated above.
Department of State
OIG Hotline Coordinator
See Joan’s response and query for documents from the OIG to Fitzgibbons' July 3 e-mail below:
Sent: Friday, July 18, 2014 2:23 PM
To: OIG Hotline (State)
Subject: Re: Complaint Regarding Problems in The Department of State's Bureau of Human Resources
Dear Mr. Fitzgibbons,
Thank you very much for this update to my letter of September 30, 2013, to IG Linick. I was not aware that a full-scale investigation had taken place in 2008, nor that it had reached a conclusion. I would ask that you send me the following:
-- a copy of the final report from that 2008 investigation; and
-- a copy of the final report from this latest investigation conducted pursuant to my 2013 request to Mr. Linick.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Finally, see Fitzgibbons original July 3, 2014 hotline e-mail below (this time in Aerial Italic/Bold):
From: OIG Hotline (State) <email@example.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 3, 2014 2:07 PM
Subject: Complaint Regarding Problems in The Department of State's Bureau of Human Resources
The Office of Inspector General has conducted an analysis of your complaint. OIG Office of Investigations (OIG/INV) reviewed you previous complaints to include your 2008 Hotline submission H2008-0647, which resulted in an OIG/INV investigation. The 2008 OIG/INV investigation could not substantiate your previous complaints, and an evaluation of your subsequent September 30, 2013 submission did not identify any new or additional issues that would warrant further OIG/INV action.
The OIG considers this matter closed. However this does not preclude you from seeking other avenues for further review of your complaint, to include contacting the Office of Special Counsel at www.osc.gov
Please be advised that OIG plans no further action on this matter.
Department of State
OIG Hotline Coordinator
I have written extensively over the last six years about corruption and cronyism in State's Human Resources Bureau (HR). Those 29 posts to date can be found on WhirledView’s left sidebar under the title “The Troubled State of State.”
One key factor in Joan’s case has been the State Department's Office of Inspector General's (OIG) longstanding refusal to investigate it. The most persuasive evidence being numerous reconvened promotion board score sheets which came to light between 2009 and 2013. Instead, as Fitzgibbons emails confirm, the OIG has repeatedly ignored any wrongdoing on the part of HR.
I described Joan's situation in “Three Failed Attempts to Have State's Office of Inspector General Do Something Other Than Cover-up” on October 3, 2012. I attributed these cover-ups to the disastrous leadership of the two previous Inspectors General – Howard Krongard and Harold Geisel.
I (and I think many others) had hoped that State's new and experienced IG – Steve Linick – appointed by Secretary Kerry late last year -- would correct many of the Department's problems including those in HR. If this recent Hotline correspondence is indicative, however, it is apparently not to be.
On September 30, 2013, Joan sent a package to IG Linick, laying out her case and requesting a meeting. To confirm receipt of the package, she spoke with Ms. Wilson (the addressee in Joan's e-mail to Linick) who was Linick's secretary. Wilson indicated that she had received it and would pass it to Linick.
See Wadelton September 30, 2013 Memo to Linick: Download Wadelton 2013 Memo to Linick
For 10 months, Joan heard nothing. The first response was on July 3, 2014, with the e-mail from the OIG Hotline – not from Linick's office, not on OIG letterhead stationery and not under Linick's signature (or anyone else’s signature) as one might expect from a professional organization.
This e-mail informed her that the OIG had done an investigation in 2008 pursuant to a previous request from her – although there had never been any previous formal or informal notices from the OIG that such an investigation had in fact been conducted or reached a conclusion. Despite this, the July 3, 2014 e-mail from Fitzgibbons claimed that the 2008 “investigation” “could not substantiate (her) previous complaints.”
In addition, the July 3 Hotline e-mail, stated that “an evaluation of your subsequent September 30, 2013 submission did not identify any new or additional issues that would warrant further OIG/INV action.” This is a remarkable statement, given the abundant evidence of what can only be fraud between the years 2008 and 2013 that has emerged in Joan's case although she first went to the OIG in 2002. In particular, the heavily altered, score sheets that HR states were produced by promotion boards reconstituted for Joan by order of the Foreign Service Grievance Board in 2011.
I understand that the OIG has also told Congress this -- that investigations of Joan's allegations had been done in 2008 and 2013 and found to be without merit.
I have posted links to these score sheets several times on WhirledView and thousands of people have downloaded them – people at State, in Congress, around Washington, in US Embassies all over the world and elsewhere. If you have not looked at them, I encourage you to do so now (see link above).
Finally, the OIG Hotline e-mails from Bill Fitzgibbons indicate that the OIG is finished with Joan's case, noting in the July 3 one that the “OIG considers this matter closed.” A more definitive effort to shut down Joan's whistleblowing about HR behavior would be hard to imagine.
Is Mr. Linick no more concerned about cleaning up the corruption in HR than were his two predecessors? This would be tragic if so, because endemic problems in State’s HR have profoundly damaged the Department’s operation throughout the years thereby weakening its effectiveness as the lead agency for the conduct of US foreign policy.
If this is also true, given State's apparent unwillingness to put its own house in order, only bold action by the US Congress is likely to make a difference. The sooner the better.
Links to referenced PDF files are below:
July 2014 E-mail correspondence with Bill Fitzgibbons: Download Wadelton Case - OIG Hotline Correspondence 7-2014
Joan's score sheets: http://whirledview.typepad.com/files/joan-score-sheet-3.pdf
Joan's Sept. 30, 2013 letter to IG Steve Linick: Download Wadelton 2013 Memo to Linick