The Chief Inspector of the Department of Homeland Security disputes allegations that he improperly processed reports of sexual harassment and domestic violence.

Last month, the chairman and member of the Senate Justice Committee – Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., And Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa – questioned DHS IG Joseph Kufari after An investigation of the State Supervision Project that the office has delayed and suppressed reports of sexual and domestic violence. According to an unpublished report, more than 10,000 DHS employees said they had experienced sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.

“Any suggestion that I wanted changes to the draft reports for the wrong purposes is false, as is the assumption that I suppressed evidence of widespread sexual harassment in DHS law enforcement components,” Cuffari wrote in A 17-page letter to the senators. The May 13 letter, which includes some revisions, was released by the IG office on Tuesday.

“The edits that I and members of my immediate staff requested to be made in certain draft reports were in line with the extensive editions recommended by career civil servants who were asked to review the projects as they are experts in the field.” , He wrote. Cuffari argues that this is necessary in order to bring the reports in line with the standards of the Council of Inspectors General for integrity and efficiency.

The issue focuses on two projects approved by Cuffari’s predecessor, IG John Kelly: customs and border protection, immigration and customs enforcement, the transport security administration and the handling of allegations by the Secret Service or sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct in the workplace and to determine if DHS agencies with law enforcement personnel have complied with the Lautenberg amendment, which prohibits the possession of firearms for persons convicted of domestic violence.

Cuffari, who was confirmed in July 2019, said the report on sexual harassment and abuse was “struck by problems from the start” and said he was unaware of the study (conducted in June and July 2018). ) by December 2020, IG said it had provided DHS, along with the Senate Judiciary Committee, with the results.

“I am considering completing the review without issuing a report. Before I take this step, however, I will give [Office of Inspections and Evaluations] opportunity to explain what the report corresponds to [CIGIE’s] The Blue Book standards may look like this, “Cuffari wrote.” In addition, I approved a project proposal that the OIE will administer another study in fiscal 2023, “which is likely to provide DHS management with useful information on any changes in response models from 2018 and will give [the office of inspector general] basis for future work in this area. ”

In the letter, he also explained his rationale for reviewing parts of a report entitled “DHS components have not fully complied with the guidelines of the Lautenberg Amendment Implementation Unit.” Among other issues, IG writes that he found the report confusing in that it blurred the distinction between a domestic violence crime conviction and administrative discipline by the Domestic Violence Employment Agency. The last topic was outside the scope of the project, as it was originally approved, and the conclusions in the draft report were unconvincing. ”

Liz Hempovich, director of public policy at POGO, responded to IG’s letter a series of tweets on Wednesday.

“This is not the answer of someone who is committed to fulfilling the statutory mandate of inspectors general,” Hempovic wrote. “The answer is devoid of any leadership (a prerequisite for any IG), with Cuffari pointing in every direction, but he himself, when answering why he failed to inform the management of the study agency, showing frantic sexual harassment and bad behavior at DHS for more than 16 months ”

Hempovic also noted that shortly after the stories from POGO and New York TimesDHS Secretary Alejandro Mallorcas ordered a working group to conduct a 45-day review of employee accountability processes.

POGO has written several other reports alleging violations in the Monitoring Service and called on Kufari to resign.

Government executive they asked Durbin and Grassley’s offices to comment on the letter, but they did not respond immediately.

In addition to the Senators, Representative Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., Chair of the House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee, and Benny Thompson, Chair of the House Home Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Cufarri on 10 May on the POGO report.



https://www.govexec.com/oversight/2022/05/DHS-ig-says-he-did-not-mishandle-agencys-reports-sexual-harassment-and-domestic-violence/367118/