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DHS IG: senators learn of 'toxic, totally dysfunctional and oppressive' regime

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 14, 2013: Charles Edwards, ex-deputy inspector general.
Photo by Mark Wilson

United States Senators have just released a report which describes what one employee called a "toxic, totally dysfunctional and oppressive" environment for those watching over the Department of Homeland Security.

After hearing allegations of misconduct made against Charles Edwards, the Acting Inspector General and Deputy Inspector General of DHS in early 2013, the Senate Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight staff initiated an investigation in June 2013, and released their findings Thursday.

"Political games" is a phrase being used to characterize the actions of the former inspector general, Edwards, in the report from the subcommittee of the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs members. Details, which seem to confirm the ethical allegations of abuse by the official responsible for keeping watch over DHS, are specified in the document.

Serving as DHS inspector general until he resigned his post in December 2013, Edwards has been identified by the subcommittee as the one who not only "jeopardized" the independence of the DHS's inspector general office by improperly changing and sometimes delaying reports or audits at the request of senior Obama administration officials, according to a blog by Rebecca Shabad at theHill, but it occurred at a time when Edwards was also said to be intent on becoming the permanent choice to head the office.

DHS agency not the best place to work

Watching over the DHS is important, of course. Last December Max Stier, President and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, found in the annual “Best Places to Work” index that 169,000 employees at the Department of Homeland Security were the most dissatisfied with their agency, according to an article by Brianna Ehley of theFiscalTimes. DHS apparently ranks "consistently" near the bottom of the “Best Places to Work” list.

Last December, Congressman Mike McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, blamed DHS’s unhappy employees on leadership vacancies within the agency, according to Ehley's article. McCaul stated during a committee hearing at that time that numerous vacancies in leadership contributed to the poor morale:

“Undoubtedly, these vacancies have a negative impact on mission effectiveness and employees’ morale."

That opinion was reinforced by the fourth Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, who stated in that same time period:

“The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security deserve strong leadership and I look forward to supporting them every day as we work together to make our communities and our nation safer, more secure, and more resilient.”

2013 allegations letter

Being susceptible to "political pressure," improperly sharing employee information, abuse of authority and official resources were also mentioned in the letter to Charles Edwards back in June of 2013 from the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. That correspondence described the allegations and issues being faced by Edwards, and he was ordered to provide documentation related to the allegations.

Also among those allegations was one which claimed Edwards intentionally changed information -- from both the public and internal reports -- regarding the solicitation of prostitutes by U.S. Secret Service personnel in Cartagena, Colombia, as mentioned in a story at the DailyCaller by Brendan Bordelon.