Tech Team of Veteran Affairs in Financial, Nepotism Scandal

 
 
By Don E. Sears  |  Posted 2009-08-23 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The inspector general cites rampant financial abuses and other indiscretions within the technology department of the Veteran Affairs. Some of the abuse included major bonuses for employees who were not eligible.

Talk about IT management gone awry. The Department of Veteran Affairs' technology department is on the hot seat.

Between 2007 and 2008, pay grades were ignored, nepotism was rampant and excessive bonuses were given to the tune of $24 million, while the department struggled with budget deficits, found the Office of the Inspector General in an investigative report.

From a NY Times article on the matter:

In a statement, the department's press secretary, Katie Roberts, said: "We are extremely concerned by the descriptions of alleged improper conduct by V.A. staff. The department is aggressively pursuing a thorough review of the situation and will continue to work with the appropriate authorities." The department will take appropriate corrective actions against policy violators, she said.

The reports, heavily redacted, conceal the names of most beneficiaries of improperly allocated jobs and bonuses. But one includes a long list of abuses by Ms. Duncan (senior manager, Jennifer S. Duncan), the former executive assistant to Mr. Howard (former assistant secretary, Robert Howard).

The inspector general found that Ms. Duncan: violated anti-nepotism rules by advocating the hiring of relatives; authorized federal money to pay for graduate courses for relatives and friends; and approved bonuses she lacked the authority to give. From 2007 to 2008, she herself got $60,000 in bonuses; the average for her pay grade was less than $15,000 for the period.

The reports also detail alleged inappropriate relationships between federal employees in the department, as well as the misuse of assigning a duty station to one employee, Katherine Martinez. From the report itself, via the group VA Watchdog:

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.

Duncan has retired, and others weren't available for comment in the Times article.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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