The mayor's advisory committee of the D.C. Office of Consumer Protection has launched an investigation into the agency in the wake of the recent dismissal of two senior employes.
Director Bettie J. Robinson dismissed senior program administrator Dorothy J. Kennison and office administrator Sylvenia M. Doby as part of what she calls a reorganization made necessary by the D.C. consumer protection law.
Kennison and Doby claim, however, that they are being dismissed for personal reasons, including the competition between Kennison and Robinson for the directorship fo the agency last spring. Their positions are scheduled to terminate tomorrow.
The dismissals, low office morale and a backlog of consumer complaints cause the advisory committee to establish a subcommittee charged with investigating the office's effectiveness, personnel management policies, programs and budget, according to Archie G. Richardson Jr., who is chairman of the subcommittee.
To begin the investigation, the committee, whose members were appointed by Mayor Walter E. Washington, wrote Robinson last weekr equesting information that includes an organizational chart, job descriptions, staff duties and a copy of the agency's reorganization plan.
Citing the agency's scheduled loss of 23 CETA employes Oct. 1, representing more than 50 percent of the staff, Robinson wrote that she was unable to respond immediately to the committee's request.
The next two weeks represent a very critical period for the agency," said Robinson, who noted that her priorities are to "assure as smooth a transition as possible." She said she plans to "undertake to respond to the request at some later time," but could not indicate when that would be.
"I think she's stonewalling us," said Richardson, who said Robinson's lack of cooperation is "stymieing, but not stopping" the investigation.
Last weekend, several consumer office employes testified at the first of what Richardson said would be a week of hearings. The hearings center around "job ratings, use of personnel and problems with morale throughout the office (which are) issues we think indicate problems of major proportion within the office."
Richardson said the subcommittee plans to make its report to the advisory committee early next week and to decide if it will make any recommendations to the mayor's office.
"Clearly, my position is a very reasonable one, and the position of the advisory committee is less so," said Robinson, who denied any charges of stonewalling. "I am simply attmepting to effectuate as smooth a trnasition as possible. This "the advisory committee's request) is not a priority matter."
Kennison, whose consumer office job ends tomorrow, siad she has been offered a position at her GS-13 level in the D.C. Municipal Planning Office. She said, however, she would prefer to stay with the Office of Consumer Protection and has applied for the vacant position of deputy director under Robinson.
"I'd like to think that the director and I could work together and try to resolidify forces," said Kennison.
Doby, who said she had neither the funds nor the emotional strength to fight her dismissal, has not yet received any job referrals. Monday will be the first day in 21 years she has been employed.