The Defense Department’s top watchdog cited a former senior official overseeing chemical and biological technology for a variety of ethical lapses and misconduct, including improperly arranging to have people he knew outside the government hired to do work for the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
Alan S. Rudolph, the former director of the agency’s chemical and biological technologies directorate, recruited people he knew to work for him and had several organizations, including George Mason University, hire them as employees to do work for his organization, the Defense Department Inspector General’s Office found. The investigation was sparked by complaints that Rudolph was hiring his friends outside regulations.
Rudolph wanted “to recruit certain individuals,” and manipulated the contracting process, which required the positions to be filled through a competitive bidding process, the IG found.
The report, dated Nov. 1, 2013, was obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request. It was completed seven months after Rudolph left the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, based in Fort Belvoir, Va., in February 2013. He was named the vice president for research at Colorado State University in August 2013, while the investigation was ongoing.
Under the advice of his legal counsel, Rudolph refused to be interviewed by investigators unless they granted him immunity from criminal prosecution, the report said. The inspector general’s office declined, and Rudolph responded through his attorney instead.
The report said the lawyer, who is not identified, disagreed with the IG’s findings, arguing that Rudolph did not push for additional personnel improperly, as the watchdog said. The contractors, not Rudolph, had the ultimate decision on who to hire, his attorney said.
Rudolph said Thursday in an e-mail that he stands by his attorney’s comments in the report. He said he believes the inquiry was “motivated by those who wish to distract from the lack of performance” by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in dealing with chemical and biological weapons defense. He also cited a decision, first reported in 2011, in which the Pentagon cut back a $1 billion effort to develop new drugs that could help troops and civilians infected in germ warfare after the effort failed to yield enough results.
Jennifer Elzea, a Pentagon spokeswoman, declined to respond to Rudolph’s allegation. The inspector general’s office, however, discounted in the report his contention that the third-party organizations had primary responsibility for ensuring government regulations were followed in the hiring of employees contracted out to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
In addition to George Mason University, the outside organizations included the biotechnology firm Tauri Group LLC of Alexandria, Va., and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory of California, a federal laboratory focused on national security.
The IG found that all three organizations were “susceptible to Dr. Rudolph’s influence because he was their customer” and hired the candidates he wanted rather than put the jobs up for bid. Tauri eventually complained to a defense official overseeing contracting, who put a stop to the practice, the report said.
Officials with Tauri and the California laboratory could not be reached for comment Thursday. A George Mason spokesman, Mike Sandler issued a brief statement: “At George Mason University, we follow sound hiring and procurement policies. We don’t allow any individual or group to dictate who works here.”
At least one other official with Rudolph’s agency appeared to believe there were potential problems with the arrangements he was seeking. The IG report said one individual, whose name is redacted, remarked in a June 29, 2012, e-mail that the agreement they had reached with George Mason amounted to “coloring outside the lines.”
“If J1 [Human Resources] figures this out, it could cause significant problems for Dr. R[udolph],” the e-mail said, according to the IG report. “So we really can’t show our hand our push it too hard.”
Colorado State officials were made aware of the investigation while searching for someone to fill Rudolph’s current job there, said Mike Hooker, a university spokesman.
“As part of our due diligence we spoke with several people familiar both with Dr. Rudolph and with the issues that had been raised,” he said. “Following that we were comfortable moving forward with hiring Dr. Rudolph.” He declined to comment further, saying it was a personnel issue.
Craig Whitlock contributed to this report.