But in a report Wednesday, the internal watchdog of the Department of internal Affairs who investigated the claims said that can not determine if the moves violated Federal guidelines, because the Board that reappointed senior employees do not maintain appropriate records documenting its decisions.
Union of concerned scientists that spoke out about allegations of retaliation against researchers, said in a statement that the Board’s action is indefensible.
“This goes beyond simple incompetence. This is absolutely unacceptable for the political appointees on this action, leaving no public records or any attempt to explain why dedicated public servants treated in the same way,” said group Director Andrew Rosenberg said in a statement.
The top Democrat in the Committee of supervision of the Ministry of internal Affairs, one of the senators who requested the investigation, called the findings “another mistake at the expense of taxpayers” at the Department.
“Reassignment in this case just means that it’s easier for politicians in the interior to circumvent the law,” Senator Maria Cantwell, d-wash. it is spoken in the message.
Cantwell and other Democrats in the Committee on energy and natural resources appealed to the inspector General to look into the appointments.
The employees were in the category of senior Executive service and can be reassigned, but in this case, the inspector General found that the Department did not complete all recommended procedures as detail, how decisions were made and spoke to staff about the decision before it was final.
A professional group that represents those employees, said in a statement that the Department “has sown the seeds of distrust and suspicion” among the workers of the quarry.
Senior Executive Association President bill Valdez stated that the fact that most officials believe that they were transferred because of their work on climate change or because they were close to retirement “should become a warning for all taxpayers who benefit from our world-class apolitical civil service”.
The inspector General found that the Board of Directors is responsible for the redistribution of managers called the Executive Board resource,” the document is not a plan or reason in the selection of leaders for reassignment.”
The report wrote that the lack of documents prevents the auditor “from a clear definition of whether or not DOI was consistent with the requirements of the current legislation”.
But a spokesman for the Ministry said that the report confirmed that it was all above Board.
“It is obvious that the evaluation confirmed the long-standing Department believes that the ERB has no legal authority to dismiss members of the CES was done here,” – said press Secretary Heather swift said in a statement.
Swift also said that the Department has made changes recommended in the report to add more accountability in the decision-making process. The previous statement of purpose stated that these senior officers should be mobile forces, and these workers know that they can be reassigned.
Scott Applewhite/AP PhotoRepresentative Ryan Zinke, a former Navy seal commander, testifies before the Senate energy and a confirmation of the natural resources Committee in hearings on his nomination to be the Minister of internal Affairs on Capitol hill in Washington, Jan. 17 in 2017.
The law gives the authorities powers to fire these employees said that they can be moved to another position for which they are suitable. At least one of the employees who had been transferred, Joel Clement, said that he has moved from the scientific position that no one in the accounting Department, although he had no experience of accounting.
Clement, former Director of political analysis Department, wrote in an editorial in the Washington post last year, where he said he was “whistle” on his new assignment in the interior. He wrote that his move to the accounting Department the job was in retaliation for “speaking publicly about the dangers posed by climate change to indigenous communities in Alaska”.
He also claimed that appointments were used to displace career employees, citing testimony to Congress, Secretary Ryan Zinke, where he said he will use transfers, redemptions and retirements to reduce staff of the Ministry of interior.
Clement filed a complaint with the Agency that investigates complaints and whistleblower lawsuit against the Department seeking records related to his reassignment, he says that they are unable to provide. He is now research fellow, Union of concerned scientists.
The Board decided to reassign 35 employees career interior, some of that would have to relocate outside of Washington, DC. Some of the staff resigned or had their reassignment was canceled before they entered into force 27 had been reassigned.
The report States that one officer even had to negotiate breaking the lease, because he thought that he would be transferred to another part of the country, only to find out that his transfer was cancelled.
In an interview with the staff and members of the Executive Board takes decisions, the inspector General found that the Commission does not collect information on the qualifications of employees and talk to them before you move them to another role. One of the members of the Council’s decision-making said that they only discussed the senior staff, they already had experience and did not discuss the staff, they did not know.
The report also found all the people that vote to reassign the career staff were appointed for political reasons, instead of the mixture of political and career, which is recommended under Federal guidelines. Deputy Secretary David Bernard said that he would recommend a more balanced group In a letter in response to the report.
The Department has released a list of 33 reassigned employees and other documents related to solutions.
But the inspector General of the Department found that records related to there is no solution. In a report published Wednesday, the office found that the Board, which is to reassign senior employees did not document its decisions or to gather information to inform decisions.
Due to the lack of documentation of the decision report, the inspector General said they could not determine if the Board complied with Federal requirements.
Bernard wrote in his response letter that he was “stunned” that the Agency did not accept established best practices that were recommended in previous administrations. He wrote that there were fewer officials to monitor these decisions, because candidates in some of the decisions were not confirmed and that he recommended changes in the Council that made the recommendations
Eight leaders of the democratic Committee of the house of representatives and the Senate also asked the Federal government watchdog to look into whether the appointment was consistent with Federal law. Press Secretary GAO said they received the application but has not started to work.