DHS manager slammed by IG for aiding relative

Manager conspired with relative competing for a contract

A Homeland Security Department manager abused his position and violated ethics guidelines when he schemed to provide taxpayer-funded software to a relative administering a federal contract, according to a new report from DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner.

The audit was initiated when a Science and Technology Directorate official raised concerns about a manager’s interaction with a small business. The review was conducted from February 2008 to January 2009, and an abbreviated report on the results was published on Aug. 18.


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The inspector general reviewed allegations that the program manager plotted to help a relative at a federal laboratory by providing the relative with federally funded software from the directorate.

Under the plan, the program manager delivered the software to a program at a federal laboratory administered by a relative of his.

The program manager did not fully inform his supervisor or ethics officials of the plan, and provided misleading information about his activities, the audit states.

On the basis of the misleading information, the manager was allowed to continue transferring funds to the laboratory. “However, he later transferred money to fund his relative’s employees’ work,” the report states. "The program manager did not follow the department’s policy to act with honesty and integrity, and to avoid appearances of legal or ethical violations."

The program manager also violated policy when he provided contracting officers with inaccurate information and on two occasions instructed the company to charge work for one contract to another without informing the contracting officer.

To cover his tracks, the program manager also delayed approval of an invoice and might have violated the Anti-Deficiency Act “by coercing the small business to provide software and services without compensation,” the inspector general’s report states.

The manager’s relative allegedly used the software to compete with the company that created it, and pressure was put on that company to relinquish the rights to the software.

The inspector general made four recommendations. However, they were not published in the abbreviated version of the report available online. Comment from the department was not immediately available, nor was information available on when and how the program manager might have been disciplined as a result of the findings.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader Comments

Tue, Sep 7, 2010 taesang D.C.

There usually is a policy that you cannot fire an employee on first-time "offenses". There may be warnings with documentation before you get fired. It is a policy of practically all agencies/companies. We are human, and we always give "second chances" and even if people tend to abuse this humanitarian tendency, this just shows you that there are still those who will rather act from that "understanding" nature.

Wed, Aug 25, 2010

A few bad apples spoil it for the rest of us in the barrel, no wonder public perception of government employees is so low and as another commenter noted the offender most likely will not be fired.

Wed, Aug 25, 2010 Fred Matt Tucson, AZ

Let me see how all of this will unfold here. The manager will not be fired but will only be given a verbal reprimanded and move to another position within DHS and he will eventually continue to be promoted! The company in question will likely just get a written warning, continue working the contract and will not be barred from contracting with the Homeland Security Department or any other federal agency! I think that sums it up just right!

Tue, Aug 24, 2010 DHS Alum

It's refreshing to see DHS IG Skinner finally paying at least some attention to abuse of office by a DHS manager. Unfortunately, he and his office have a history of ignoring reports of wrongdoing by senior political appointees -- apparently, this manager was junior enough for the IG to feel comfortable actually doing something instead of helping hide senior-level violations.

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