January 03, 2019

Multi-Year Investigation Reveals Widespread Waste & Misconduct at Highest Echelon of Marshals Service

Oversight found waste, nepotism, lax accountability & whistleblower retaliation

WASHINGTON – Following a nearly four-year investigation that included reports from more than 100 current and former employees at the U.S. Marshals Service, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley today released a memo summarizing findings of a culture of misconduct by senior agency officials. The alleged wrongdoing includes inappropriate hiring practices and nepotism, the misuse of funds for lavish office furnishings, ethics violations, lax accountability and poor management that resulted in thousands of employees working with expired or nearly-expired body armor.
 
“In early 2015, under the Obama Administration, the committee heard from a handful of whistleblowers who exposed dubious spending at the Marshals Service and raised questions about suspicious hiring arrangements by high-ranking officials. Unfortunately, this was only the tip of the iceberg. As our investigation progressed, we found a culture of mismanagement, abuse of authority and lax accountability that started clear at the top and has set a terrible standard for other employees across the agency. Poor leadership and pervasive misconduct cripples morale and corrodes trust of employees tasked with apprehending criminals and keeping communities safe. This culture must change.
 
“It’s rare to have so many whistleblowers from the rank and file of an agency come forward to express concern. Unfortunately, some faced retaliation for raising the alarm. New leadership has begun to address these issues, and I urge them to take seriously concerns raised by employees. Restoring faith in this important agency is going to require hard work and input from all levels of the Marshals Service,” Grassley said.
 
The 21-page memo and accompanying 400-plus pages of exhibits highlight numerous accountability failures by high-ranking officials, including:
·       Wasteful spending on lavish office furnishings, contracts and costly, but rarely-used facilities,
·       Inappropriate hiring practices, such as favoritism and nepotism,
·       The use of subordinates to fill out applications for senior executive service positons,
·       The use of paid and unpaid leave to allow for full retirement benefits of individuals facing substantiated claims of misconduct,
·       Insufficient sanctions for the forging of a judge’s signature on hundreds of subpoenas,
·       Insufficient sanctions for sexual harassment and solicitation of prostitutes,
·       Mismanagement of critical safety equipment that left operational employees with expired body armor,
·       Whistleblower retaliation,
·       Lack of candor to federal investigators, and
·       Misleading, erroneous and incomplete responses to Congress.
 
The memo makes several recommendations to address issues raised by the investigation.  They include:
·       Training and policies to better protect whistleblowers,
·       Restrictions on the use of paid and unpaid leave to avoid termination when facing substantiated claims of misconduct,
·       Improvements to the management of cyclical safety equipment, such as body armor, and
·       Improved cooperation with oversight authorities such as the Office of Special Counsel and Congress.
 

-30-