The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has faced a torrent of negative press coverage in the past several years. The deluge of negative reports is apparently not over.
According to the Daily Caller, which says it has a report on the incident provided by a current government employee, teachers were attending a conference at the Renaissance Hotel close to the VA offices for the inspector general. During the conference, the teachers noticed a man looking at them and masturbating in a glass conference room visible to the public. The teachers reportedly observed him engaging in the same activity at various times during their stay at the hotel. The man was subsequently identified in surveillance videos as a former senior agency official whose jobs included acting inspector general and deputy inspector general.
He resigned in 2008. An investigation by the Department of Interior, which became involved after the investigation identified a senior official in the VA’s investigative unit as being involved in the incident, reported that the individual repeatedly denied the allegations of lewd conduct.
As a federal employee, he was entitled to retire with his full pension and did so before having to deal with disciplinary or criminal charges.
When The Daily Caller News Foundation reached him at home by telephone, the former execurtive denied the incident. He told the reporter, “I don’t have any comment at all. I didn’t resign, I just retired. I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I’ve never heard that, I’ve never done that.”
The VA “is staying silent following publication of these media reports.” According to an agency representative, “the current leadership at the VA OIG had no knowledge of this situation until very recently.”
No doubt, human resources officials who have been involved in handling cases of misconduct allegations of this nature recognize the problems faced by agencies.
The immediate problem facing agency management is often to get rid of the problem. In other words, if an employee resigns, the problem goes away as far as the agency is concerned.
The public relations fallout in an agency that has already been castigated in public, as the VA has been, will create more problems. Publicity concerning allegations of a senior official in the Office of Inspector General engaging in this type of notorious conduct likely will likely reopen earlier allegations of mismanagement.
Crafting charges against an employee facing sexual misconduct into a winning case can be tricky and can drag on for months or years without any certain outcome. Allowing or persuading an employee to retire quietly and collect a full pension is often considered a good solution from the agency’s standpoint. It does not always work out as well as planned.