Al Kamen
Al Kamen
In the Loop

Hey, everyone needs a golfing break

Charles Dharapak/ASSOCIATED PRESS - Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, hired an old hand from the Madeleine Albright days.

If you’d like to play golf on government time, Steven Calvery , who runs the Pentagon’s police force, could be the boss for you. Then again, if fetching lunch and coffee for your supervisor every day doesn’t appeal, you may want to work elsewhere.

Calvery, the director of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, which safeguards the building and 100 other military sites around Washington, has been dinged by the Defense Department inspector general for “misusing” his position and underlings, our colleague Craig Whitlock reports.

Al Kamen

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. He began his reporting career at the Rocky Mountain News and joined The Post in 1980. He has covered local and federal courts, the Supreme Court and the State Department. Follow him on Twitter.

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In a 40-page report released Monday, the inspector general also said Calvery improperly allowed an unnamed relative to blast away at the Pentagon Force Protection Agency firing range, using a PFPA weapon and ammunition. Tips and advice were provided, gratis, by two PFPA firearms instructors. The relative was applying for a job with another law enforcement agency and apparently needed some practice, the report found.

The inspector general began its misconduct investigation into Calvery after it received a couple of anonymous complaints in March 2011, as well as a letter from an unidentified U.S. senator. The inspector general labored on the inquiry for nearly two years, wrapping things up on Feb. 20, but then kept the findings quiet.

On April 2, The Washington Post filed a request for the Calvery investigation under the Freedom of Information Act. On Monday, seven months later, the inspector general finally coughed up the report.

Investigators found that Calvery wanted to boost the “esprit de corps” of the 1,300 folks who worked for him. So in 2009 and 2010, he decreed that anyone who wanted to play in the PFPA’s annual golf tournament would receive four hours’ paid administrative leave.

Demand, it seems, was pretty high. The report notes that “the number of participants was regulated by the capacity of the golf course.” An estimated 100 to 150 lucky duffers got to spend half the workday at play.

The fun came to an end the next year when a party pooper in the PFPA’s Office of General Counsel “advised that it was not a good idea to authorize administrative leave” to play golf. According to the report, Calvery later told investigators that he still thought he had the authority to let folks in the office play on taxpayers’ time but decided to “err on the side of caution” and make people take vacation time instead starting in 2011.

When Calvery’s staffers weren’t on the golf course, however, life could sometimes be unpleasant. Five witnesses told the inspector general that Calvery’s staffers brought him lunch and coffee every day, and that some of them weren’t too happy about it.

One unidentified witness testified that Calvery would often pre-order his lunch from the Air Force or Navy mess at the Pentagon and then his staffers would have to pick it up (no explanation for why Calvery avoided Army chow). The boss always paid for his meals and lattes, but the inspector general chided him for misusing his subordinates to cater to him.

Calvery told investigators that he never coerced anyone into fetching his lunch, adding: “I would hope if they felt uncomfortable doing it, they would tell me. And if they did feel uncomfortable, then that would be okay. You know, they wouldn’t have to do that.”

The inspector general urged the Office of the Secretary of Defense to take “appropriate action” against Calvery. Lt. Col. Tom Crosson, a Pentagon spokesman, said Calvery was subjected to “appropriate administrative action” as a result of the probe, but he declined to elaborate, citing privacy restrictions. Calvery did not respond to a request for comment.

A career repeats itself

“You Can’t Go Home Again,” the title of the Thomas Wolfe novel, obviously doesn’t apply to Bill Woodward (no relation to Bob). He’s now moving back to Foggy Bottom — to much the same job he had some two decades ago working for a newly installed ambassador to the United Nations named Madeleine Albright. He kept that portfolio as well as a policy advisory role when Albright moved to the seventh floor. He went on to help her write her five best-selling books.

Now, the new U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, has brought the talented wordsmith on as a speechwriter and adviser. He’ll probably be working not far from the office he used to have.

Before his stint with Albright, Woodward worked for then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and then-Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) and on several presidential campaigns.

At least it wasn’t diesel

The Energy Department has a gas problem.

At two of the department’s outposts, the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Bonneville Power Administration, a large fleet of supposedly environmentally friendly flex-fuel cars were routinely filled with regular old gasoline (read: not so green), a recent inspector general’s report found.

The report dinged the managers of the cars, noting that they had “not always managed their substantial vehicle fleets in a cost-effective or efficient manner, nor did they take all prudent steps to advance the use of alternative fuels.”

And the flex-fuel cars cost an extra $700,000 over what the department would have spent on traditional gas guzzlers.

In some cases, the report notes, it was tough to find the ethanol to power them. So at one point, the folks at Los Alamos used a tanker truck to bring ethanol fuel to 65 vehicles, which cost $66,000.

“We appreciate the IG’s recommendations, and we are working aggressively to implement a plan that addresses their findings,” an Energy Department spokesman tells us.

Apparently, it isn’t easy — or cheap — being green.

With Emily Heil

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