By Patricia H. Kushlis
Also see Peter Van Buren "An Example of Petty Corruption and Cronyism at State", January 23, 2013. Van Buren worked on Congressional Relations for State's Bureau of Consular Affairs at the time of the passport fiasco.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Maura Harty, State Department darling – and Congressional bête noir – somehow received a Presidential rank (the US government’s most prestigious civilian) award. This happened in 2010. But for what? Staying home after being fired for causing such a mess with the normally routine issuance of passports to American citizens for the first six months of 2007 that members of Congress finally summoned her to the Hill to testify - to her and the Department’s chagrin?
We remember it all too well since WhirledView became the “go-to” website for advice on how to circumnavigate the interminably long delays caused by incompetent bureaucratic decisions because, well the mainstream media and most everyone else had largely been ignoring this very human story. Perhaps as importantly we made it possible for applicants to share experiences and for those successful in navigating the Passport Agency’s rocky shoals to offer practical advice.
Presidential awards are rare and special.
These awards are normally reserved for a very few US government officials successfully employed and in responsible positions who had performed their duties in exemplary fashion for the previous three years. This, we pointed out in 2010, Harty had not been or done because she had been let go – not just moved to another position in the Department - in early 2008 for incompetence in the passport affair. She submitted her resignation on November 21, 2007 effective February 29, 2008.
How is it that no one in authority in the Department noticed Harty’s Presidential award nomination and questioned its propriety - before it was announced? Shouldn’t this have come from Nancy Powell then Director General of the Foreign Service?
Or what about – let’s fast forward to the present – Harty’s far more recent reemployment by the Department – this time in the Office of the Inspector General? Didn’t Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the current Director General think more than once about rehiring someone who had been let go for cause just a few years earlier? Guess not.
While Harty herself is now back at State in the Office of the Inspector General, we understand that her husband (different last name) is employed in State’s Consular Affairs Bureau front office. Guess they can carpool together. Wonderful.
There’s one thing about bringing someone back on contract or into the Foreign Service who performed well, left of his or her own volition or was forced out because of the Foreign Service’s antediluvian up-or-out promotion system despite the individual’s sustained superior performance. But face it Harty does not meet those criteria. And employing her non-State Department husband in the front office of the bureau she formerly headed (before she became a public embarrassment) simply smacks of a weird form of questionable cronyism.
But why the Office of the Inspector General (OIG)? How can the Department hire someone for a position in the Inspector’s Office with this track-record? Should she really be allowed to make judgment calls as to how others perform their jobs?