House GOP Report Defends State Dept. Official

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A report produced by the Republican staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee concludes that while State Department Inspector General Howard J. Krongard has "an extraordinarily abusive management style," charges that Krongard thwarted investigations into Iraq and was motivated by political bias cannot be supported by the evidence collected.

The 117-page report by the minority staff, prepared for a hearing today into Krongard's leadership of the IG's office, is an unusually tough broadside against the tactics of Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.). The report contends that Waxman jumped the gun by accusing Krongard in a Sept. 18 letter of a long list of failings before, Republicans charged, the committee had conducted a thorough investigation.

The report asserts that, other than Krongard's poor management skills, 10 of the 11 charges raised in the Waxman letter turned out to be wrong, misplaced or overstated.

"These issues were aired publicly with highly charged attacks against the IG for which there was no evidence, other than the unsupported allegations of current and former employees," the minority report says. It says that the "expenditure of time and taxpayer funds proving that the State Department IG is abrasive and abusive is itself an abuse of the Committee's authority."

Karen Lightfoot, spokeswoman for the oversight committee's majority staff, said its report has not yet been finalized.

"The allegations about Mr. Krongard are serious and deserve better than the distorted facts and glaring omissions in the Republican staff report," Waxman said in a statement. "Today's hearing will be an important opportunity to find the truth about the Inspector General's conduct."

The Republican report criticizes in particular Waxman's contention that Krongard, because of "partisan political ties," is acting to support the Bush administration, rather than to root out fraud. The allegation was "simply fabricated," the report says, noting that "witness after witness denied any first-hand knowledge of such connections." One witness called it "a hunch," it says.

The minority report also faults Waxman for saying that Krongard thwarted probes into Iraq. It says the true picture is more complicated. A number of different agencies are already looking into alleged fraud and abuse in Iraq, while the relatively small State IG office has only one investigator who is willing to travel there, it says.

But even the minority report says it found "substantial support" for Waxman's charge that Krongard routinely belittled employees or treated them harshly. "Several witnesses observed that the IG had a poor regard for government workers," the report says, noting that one said he went through several secretaries. One secretary simply did not show up for work and told others that she would not return to the front office, a witness testified.

"It was common knowledge not to speak in the staff meetings because he was heavy-handed," Patti Boyd, a former deputy assistant inspector general, told the committee staff. "People were actually afraid to say anything. So they actually said nothing." She added: "It was my observation that he disliked everyone."

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