Grijalva Calls for a Hearing on the Flawed and Poorly Documented DOI Reassignment Process

Washington, D.C. – In response to the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report finding that recent reassignments of senior, career officials at DOI were carried out, “without a written plan or clear criteria,” and that appeared to punish employees that worked on climate change or conservation, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent a letter to Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) today to request an oversight hearing to get more answers about the reassignments.

Ranking Member Grijalva wants answers from Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt and Associate Deputy Secretary James Cason on why dozens of senior, career, DOI executives were reassigned by a board made up entirely of political appointees that, according to the OIG report, failed to, “gather the information needed to make informed decisions about the reassignments.” The letter states in part:

The reassigned employees had their own perspectives as to why they were moved. Seventeen out of thirty-one employees that were interviewed believed that their reassignments were political or punitive, based on prior conflict with DOI leadership, or due to prior work assignments on climate change, energy, or conservation. Seven believed their reassignments were age or retirement related. None of these are legitimate reasons to unilaterally reassign someone from their job, and even if DOI contested the perceived reasons, the OIG found incontrovertible evidence of major failures in communication that exacerbated distrust and encouraged perceptions of retribution. In addition, at least one separate report has indicated that nearly half of those proposed for reassignment were people of color, which is highly disturbing, particularly given reports of Secretary Zinke’s views on diversity. 

The letter also points out that the OIG report contradicts statements made by DOI in the immediate aftermath of the reassignments.

The complete letter can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/2GTTE3z

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