DorobekInsider: The buzz of federal government IT: Two scorching IG report on VA IT… sex, lies, but no video tape

Friday - 8/21/2009, 1:56pm EDT

If you want some interesting reading, there are two new report out from the inspector general at the Department of Veterans Affairs. (How often do “IG report” and “interesting reading” end up in the same sentence. But this might actually get you to put down that steamy summer read. While the subject matter is steamy, leave it to an IG report to make it almost mechanical… One person called this sex and lies — we’re just missing the video tape. And while the subject )

Right up front, it is important to mention — and I think current VA CIO Roger Baker will appreciate everybody noting — that this was not on his watch. That being said, VA is likely going to have to respond. More on that in a moment, but first…

Here is how Nextgov’s Gautham Nagesh reports the findings:

Former high-ranking information technology officials at the Veterans Affairs Department gave preferential treatment to certain contractors, engaged in nepotism in hiring and, in one case, took advantage of a relationship with a supervisor for personal gain, according to a new report from the department’s inspector general.

Two reports published Thursday indicate VA’s former Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology, Robert Howard, allowed employees to abuse their authority for the benefit of friends and family.

Read the full NextGov story here. FCW’s Ben Bain also has a report on the IG reports here.

You can download the PDFs of the IG report here:

Administrative Investigation Misuse of Position, Abuse of Authority, and Prohibited Personnel Practices Office of Information & Technology [August 2009, PDF]

We substantiated that Ms. Katherine Adair Martinez, Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Information Protection and Risk Management (IPRM), Office of Information and Technology (OI&T), misused her position, abused her authority, and engaged in prohibited personnel practices when she influenced a VA contractor and later her VA subordinates to employ Ms. Laura Nash, Executive Assistant, IPRM. Further, we substantiated that Ms. Martinez misused her position when she took advantage of an inappropriate personal relationship with the former Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology, Mr. Robert Howard, to move her duty station to Florida even though she spent almost 60 percent of her time at VA Central Office on official travel. We also substantiated that Ms. Martinez failed to provide proper contract oversight and did not properly fulfill her duties as a Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative (COTR). In addition, we substantiated that Ms. Kathryn Maginnis, Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary (ADAS), IPRM, abused her authority and (b)(6) and [...redacted...], IPRM, engaged in prohibited personnel practices in the filling of four GS-15 positions.

Administrative Investigation Nepotism, Abuse of Authority, Misuse of Position, Improper Hiring, and Improperly Administered Awards, OI&T [August 2009, PDF]

We substantiated that Ms. Jennifer S. Duncan, former Executive Assistant to the former Assistant Secretary for Information and Technology, Mr. Robert Howard, engaged in nepotism when she improperly advocated for the hiring and advancement of [redacted] within VA Office of Information and Technology (OI&T). We also substantiated that she abused her authority and engaged in prohibited personnel practices when she improperly hired an acquaintance and friend and at a rate above the minimum rate of pay. Further, we found that Ms. Duncan’s [redacted], misused her own position for the private gain of [redacted]. We also substantiated that [redacted]; that they improperly utilized the Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP) and the Direct Hire Authority (DHA) to appoint Ms. Duncan’s family and friends; and that they were not fiscally responsible when they improperly administered awards. [Redacted], misused his position for the private gain of his [redacted] and [redacted] when he advocated for their VA appointments and (b)(6) his [redacted] above the minimum rate of pay. We further substantiated that [redacted] did not testify freely and honestly in matters relating to his employment and that he failed to properly discharge the duties of his position. Additionally, we substantiated that OI&T Managers improperly authorized academic degree funding for Ms. Duncan’s family and friends and for [redacted], that they improperly utilized the Federal Career Intern Program (FCIP) and the Direct Hire Authority (DHA) to appoint Ms. Duncan’s family and friends; and that they were not fiscally responsible when they improperly administered awards.

Sorry for all the redactions. It makes it a bit difficult to follow.

The reports are dry yet the subject matter is not at all dry. I was talking to one long-time federal IT insider who coined them ‘Sex, Lies, but without the video tape.’