The Washington Post

House probes corruption in DHS agencies


A House subcommittee hearing Thursday examined Department of Homeland Security ethical standards and found them repeatedly violated.

“There have been many reports of federal employees wasting taxpayer dollars, and in some cases committing crimes, which erodes the trust American people have in our government,” Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.), chairman of the Homeland Security subcommittee on oversight, investigations and management, said in his opening statement.

“We have also found criminal activity in our bureaucracies,” he continued. “Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel collaborating with drug smugglers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel filing fraudulent travel claims and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel stealing personal belongings of passengers.”

McCaul said more than 130 CBP agents have been charged with corruption since 2004; an ICE agent pleaded guilty to 21 criminal counts in February; a former ICE intelligence chief is accused of embezzling more than $180,000, and four other ICE employees have pleaded guilty in the scheme; and a recent 22-count indictment says Transportation Security officers in Los Angeles took bribes to allow drug couriers safe passage through airport security.

McCaul and everyone who spoke at the hearing stressed that most workers are honest and law-abiding.

“There are over 220,000 Department of Homeland Security employees who work every day to secure our homeland from dangerous threats and natural disasters,” said Rep. William Keating (Mass.), the ranking Democrat on the panel. “I would like to thank them for their service.”

But, he added, “the number of allegations” pursued by just one DHS office “is staggering.”

Although all allegations have not been proven, Keating said, “they are a testament to the fact that eliminating public corruption at the Department of Homeland Security is in dire need of improvement.”

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at Follow the Federal Diary on Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.


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