Emanuel S. Savas, a top aide to Housing Secretary Samuel R. Pierce, was suspended from his job yesterday pending an investigation into charges that several members of Savas' staff were ordered to work on his privately published book on government time.
"Dr. Savas will be on administrative leave with pay effective immediately," Pierce said yesterday in a written statement. Savas is assistant secretary for policy development and research at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Pierce's statement said that Savas would remain on leave until HUD's inspector general completes a full investigation. The probe would include the arrangement concerning Savas' book and his official travels. Savas, who earns $67,000, could not be reached for comment.
The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Savas charged the government for $14,000 for official trips last year, including five trips to Europe and 20 trips to New York in 10 months, spending each New York weekend at his home in Tenafly, N.J. Savas said each trip was a legitimate business trip and that he avoided expensive hotel costs in New York by staying at his home.
The Post reported last week that current and former HUD employes were asked to proofread and partially type his book, "Privatizing the Public Sector--How to Shrink Government," on government time.
Savas explained that he had asked his former assistant, Joseph Esposito, to proofread the book on his own time and only discovered last week that Esposito had asked HUD employes to work on the manuscript on government time. He said he would reimburse the government for the work.
"I know the boundary line between government and private activity. This is clearly not a proper activity for government officials. If I had known, this is the kind of thing I would have paid for," Savas said then.
But Esposito, who now works for the Agency for International Development, said in an interview last week that Savas was not telling the truth. "He identified the people who would be used, and he directed me to supervise the process." Asked about Savas' statement, Esposito said, "That is absolutely untrue."