The Washington Post

Disgruntled HHS official pens caustic government take down

Frustrated by federal government bureaucracy that was “profoundly dysfunctional” and left him “offended as an American taxpayer,” the director of a Health and Human Services agency detailed his grievances in a pointed resignation letter.

For two years David Wright ran the Office of Research Integrity, responsible for reviewing any misconduct in research projects. But Wright, in a letter obtained and published by ScienceInsider, said the role was “the very worst job I have ever had” the majority of the time.

Wright describes his inability to get approval to spend $35 to convert old cassette tapes to CDs. He tried to fill a vacancy in his office, but an HHS deputy secretary said there was a secret priority list and couldn’t tell him where his open job fell.

Wright asserts in the letter, addressed to the Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard Koh, that government officials care more about their own advancement than the public good:

“Since I’ve been here I’ve been advised by my superiors that I had ‘to make my bosses look good.’  I’ve been admonished: ‘Dave, you are a visionary leader but what we need here are team players.’  Recently, I was advised that if I wanted to be happy in government service, I had to ‘lower my expectations.’  The one thing no one in OASH (Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health) leadership has said to me in two years is ‘how can we help ORI better serve the research community?’  Not once.”

Wright alleges in the letter that Koh himself described his office as an “intensely political environment.”

The Loop has reached out to OASH, HHS and the White House to respond to Wright’s take down. We will update if they do.

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Colby Itkowitz · March 13, 2014

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.