Cummings Calls for Subpoena of DOI

Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wants to subpoena DOI for a lack of response to his inquiry about retaliatory employee reassignments.

Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Elijah Cummings (D-MD) sent a letter to Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) asking for a subpoena of the Department of Interior for failure to produce what Cummings says is an inadequate response to documents he requested previously concerning reassignment of agency employees.

Cummings sent a letter back in October to DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke requesting information on the reassignments of as many as 50 agency employees. At that time, Cummings said he was concerned the reassignments may have been retaliatory and therefore could be a violation of federal law.

In his latest letter to Gowdy, Cummings said that DOI failed to produce adequate documentation to his previous request.

Cummings noted, in part:

The Department produced only 176 pages of documents, including a nearly 60-page photocopy of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which Congress passed 40 years ago. In addition, the Department produced copies of reassignment requests from the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Capital and Diversity to the Executive Resources Board and letters from the Executive Resources Board to each employee. Finally, the Department produced a chart tracking the planned moves of employees, but redacted it without adequate explanation.

Cummings also explained his concerns about Zinke’s actions at DOI that prompted his initial investigation:

Secretary Zinke threatened to use personnel reassignments to slash the Department’s workforce in response to their alleged disloyalty. He “promised a ‘huge’ change by restructuring staff positions” and claimed that many career employees are “disloyal.” He also compared assuming the position of Secretary to “capturing a pirate ship.” In June 2017, the Department moved forward with efforts to reassign numerous civil service employees without providing a clear rationale.

It is unknown if Gowdy will honor Cummings’ request and issue a subpoena. Cummings added in his letter, “Although I was disappointed that you chose not to join me in requesting documents from the Department about these wide-ranging actions that are squarely within our jurisdiction, I hope that if you decide not to issue this subpoena yourself, you will place this matter on the agenda for our next regularly scheduled business meeting so all Committee members will have the opportunity to vote on a motion to subpoena these documents.”

A copy of Cummings’ letter to Gowdy is included below.

2018-02-27 Cummings Letter Re: DOI Subpoena

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.