The Graduate School, a 64-year-old institution overseen by the Agriculture Department, was paid more than $30 million over three years by other U.S. agencies for manpower and services, in some cases to enable those agencies to circumvent federal manpower ceilings, according to an internal department report.
The report was released yesterday in three parts totaling 2,300 pages, after about two years of investigation by the department's Office of the Inspector General following a whistle-blower complaint. No criminal charges were leveled, but officials said a grand jury is looking into that possibility.
A further report, involving an audit of the school, is in the works. The portions released were made public after a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press and others.
The report alleges that the school used "interagency training agreements" with other agencies -- including the Defense Department, the Agency for International Development and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative -- to circumvent laws dealing with procurement and employment.
Typically, the report said, the school would "serve as a pass-through contractor" by hiring people wanted by a client agency, and paying their salaries. For this service, the Graduate School collected up to a 30 percent "overhead fee" or commission from the agency.
The report cited a number of the school's senior officials for alleged "misuse of federal funds and mismanagement" of the institution's programs. Those included Edmund D. Fulker, director, a 26-year employe who resigned under pressure on July 31.
Several others were investigated, including Scott L. Varner, former director of the school's special programs, and Anne C. Shea, associate director. A spokesman, Brian Gray, said Varner quit last year and "left no forwarding address." Shea has moved into Varner's job as acting director of special programs, Gray said.
In a statement to investigators, Fulker denied any wrongdoing and said many practices cited in the report had been standard procedure for years.