oversight

HUD: Allegations of Conflict of Interest and Misrepresentations Regarding GAO Review of Bucklin Report Are Unfounded

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1999-09-20.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

        GAO
        Accounability *Intgty   Reliability

United States General Accounting Office                                        Office of Special Investigations
Washington, DC 20548


           B-283473

           September 20, 1999

           The Honorable Christopher S. Bond
           Chairman
           Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, HUD, and Independent Agencies
           Committee on Appropriations
           United States Senate

           Subject: HUD: Allegations of Conflict of Interest and Misrepresentations
                    Regarding GAO Review of Bucklin Report Are Unfounded

           Dear Mr. Chairman:

          As you requested on August 18, 1999, we are reporting to you concerning Donald T.
          Bucklin's allegations regarding our letter, HUD: Review of Bucklin Report Prepared
          to Assist HUD in Defending Against EEO Complaint by HUD's Deputy Assistant
          Inspector General (GAO/OSI-99-16R, Aug. 3, 1999). Mr. Bucklin alleges that GAO's
          lead investigator in our Housing and Urban Development (HUD) investigation that
          resulted in our letter had an obvious conflict of interest. He also contends that we
          made false and misleading representations in our correspondence to you. His
          allegations are without merit. Further, prior to issuing our letter, we afforded
          Mr. Bucklin an opportunity to explain the inaccuracies that we had identified in his
          report, but he did not respond to our offer.

          Mr. Bucklin alleges that GAO's lead investigator should not have been assigned to
          the HUD investigation because he had previously been denied employment with the
          HUD Office of Inspector General (OIG) after interviewing with HUD's Deputy
          Assistant Inspector General for Investigations. In fact, neither Special Agent Ronald
          Malfi nor Special Agent John Ryan, the two investigators assigned to this case, has
          ever applied for a position with the HUD OIG or been interviewed by the Deputy
          Assistant Inspector General. For the reasons provided in the enclosed response, we
          adhere to our position that the Bucklin report contained the factual inaccuracies
          that we identified.




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B-283473

We will send copies of this letter to the Honorable Andrew Cuomo, Secretary of
Housing and Urban Development. We will also make copies available to others
upon request. If you have any questions, please contact me at (202) 512-7455.

Sincerely yours,




Robert H. Hast
Acting Assistant Comptroller General
  for Special Investigations

Enclosure




                             GAO/OSI-99-19R   Unfounded Bucklin Report Allegations
    Enclosure I




              i GAO
        United States General Accounting Office                                    Office of Special Investigations
        Washington, DC 20548



                   September 17, 1999

                   Donald T. Bucklin
                   Squire, Sanders & Dempsey, LLP
                   1201 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
                   P.O. Box 407
                   Washington, DC 20044-0407

                   Dear Mr. Bucklin:

                   This letter responds to your August 13, 1999, correspondence concerning the results
                   of GAO's investigation for Senator Christopher Bond, HUD: Review of Bucklin
                   Renort Prepared to Assist HUD in Defendin Against EEO Complaint by HUD's
                   Deputy Assistant Inspector General (GAO/OSI-99-16R, Aug. 3, 1999). In your letter,
                   you assert that GAO's lead investigator for the Department of Housing and Urban
                   Development (HUD) investigation had an obvious conflict of interest and also
                   contend that we made false and misleading representations in GAO's
                   correspondence to Senator Bond.

                   Your assertion regarding a conflict of interest on the part of the lead investigator is
                   without merit In fact, neither John Ryan nor Ronald Malfi, the two investigators
                   from my office assigned to this case, has ever applied for a position with HUD's
                   Office of Inspector General (OIG) or been interviewed by HUD's current Deputy
                   Assistant Inspector General for Investigations for such a position. Additionally, on
                   August 19, 1999, a GAO attorney interviewed Judith Conti, co-counsel for the Deputy
                   Assistant Inspector General. Ms. Conti advised us that after Mr. Malfi and Mr. Ryan
                   interviewed her and co-counsel Steven Hoffman on February 9, 1999, she and
                   Mr. Hoffman advised their client of the names of the GAO investigators. Ms. Conti
                  said that their client stated that the name John Ryan was familiar to him and that he
                  thought he may have interviewed him for a position at HUD OIG. According to
                  Ms. Conti, she and Mr. Hoffman then requested that their client attempt to
                  determine whether he had in fact interviewed Mr. Ryan. Their client thereafter
                  advised them that he was unable to confirm or substantiate the information.
                  Ms. Conti said that you were advised of their client's inability to confirm or
                  substantiate that he had previously interviewed Mr. Ryan. According to Ms. Conti,
                  these conversations took place before you wrote your letter on August 13, 1999.

                  In your letter, you also challenge 4 of the 11 inaccuracies we identified in the
                  Bucklin Report. These challenges are also without merit. Although you admit that
                  the citation in your report to FAR section 13.602 was incorrect and that no such
                  section exists in the FAR, you nonetheless assert that it was obvious from the
                  context of the discussion that you were referring to FAR section 13.002. However,
                  nothing in the context of the discussion or the parenthetical explanation following
                  the citation to FAR section 13.602, both of which focused on sole-source
                  acquisitions and contracting for expert services, would suggest to the reader that




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    Enclosure I




                    you intended to cite FAR section 13.002, which simply describes the general purpose
                    of simplified acquisition procedures.

                    The remaining three inaccuracies that you challenge relate to our statement of your
                    misleading use of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statistics. .In your report
                   and again in your letter, you claim that there were 48 EEO complaints in the OIG
                                                                                                       in
                   fiscal years 1994 through 1998, i.e., October 1993 through September 1998. You
                                                                                                     also
                   assert that there were 27 EEO complaints in the Office of General Counsel and 43 in
                   the Office of Community Planning and Development for the same period. However,
                   as you admit in your letter, seven complaints in the OIG carried over from fiscal year
                   1993. Similarly, complaints carried over from fiscal year 1993 were included your
                   totals for the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Community Planninginand
                   Development.

                  The inclusion of complaints on hand at the beginning of fiscal year 1994 in your
                  statistics is in fact misleading. Susan Gaffney was detailed as the Inspector General
                   (IG) in April 1993 and confirmed in August 1993. Of the seven EEO complaints on
                  hand at the beginning of fiscal year 1994, our review of the documentation shows
                  that only one was filed after IG Gaffney was detailed. Including the seven
                  complaints on hand at the beginning of fiscal year 1994 makes it appear that more
                  EEO complaints were filed during IG Gaffney's tenure than actually were.
                  Moreover, because the OIG had more EEO complaints carried over from fiscal year
                  1993 than did either the Office of General Counsel or the Office of Community
                  Planning and Development, your statistics distort the comparison of these three
                  offices.

                  Finally,it is important to note that our overall investigation focused on the propriety
                  of HUD's award of contracts to two law firms-Wlfliams & Connolly and Day, Berry
                  & Howard, LLP-to investigate the Deputy Assistant Inspector General's EEO
                  complaint. We did not review the merits of the complaint filed by the Deputy
                  Assistant Inspector General.

                  Sincerely yours,




                  Robert H. Hast
                  Acting Assistant Comptroller General
                    for Special Investigations




(600582)




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