Oversight

Rep. Thompson wants better answers from DHS on Spires

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.)

House Homeland Security Committee ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) has told DHS officials to try again in addressing his questions about former CIO Richard Spires. (File photo)

On April 19, House Homeland Security Committee ranking member Bennie Thompson's (D-Miss.) submitted a formal inquiry to the Department of Homeland Security regarding former CIO Richard Spires, asking again for a detailed explanation into the leave of absence that precipitated Spires' resignation effective May 17.

Thompson was not satisfied with DHS' initial response – a one-page document that arrived seven days late -- so on May 22 he authored a second inquiry, in which he demands that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano ensure the questions are answered in detailed, narrative form by May 28.

In the request, Thompson states that DHS has been uncooperative with committee staffers who urged the department to "reconsider its vague response" to his initial inquiry, and described DHS' answers regarding acting CIO Margie Graves as a "vague biographical sketch akin to those readily available on the Department’s website."

"To date, without any explanation or justification, the Department has indicated that it will not provide the detailed answers I seek," Thompson wrote.

In its response to Thompson’s initial April 19 request, DHS' assistant secretary for legislative affairs said that "contrary to media reports, Mr. Spires was not placed in an administrative leave status" -- a position DHS officials have maintained since news of Spires' leave first broke on April 1. Yet the response stated any discussion on why Spires would take leave and resign was prohibited for “personnel and privacy rules." The letter also stated that Spires' leave was unrelated to congressional testimony he delivered on Feb. 27, or the testimony he had been scheduled to deliver March 19.

FCW has reported throughout that Spires' leave was categorized as elected, not administrative. Yet several sources both inside DHS and out maintain that the nearly two-month leave, whatever its official status, was not of Spires' choosing, and may have resulted from friction regarding CIO authority.

The DHS Office of Inspector General conducted an investigation into Spires' situation around the time his leave began on March 15, but the findings from that report have not been made public.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Fri, May 24, 2013

Could it be internal personnel matters in OCIO that lead to Spires’s resignation? Someone needs to look into the EEO complaints and administrative grievances against Spires and other OCIO upper managers. Abrupt retirements and resignations of veterans and 20 + years of federal service employees during Spires watch.

Fri, May 24, 2013

Keep pushing for answers Bennie. Look closely at contractor and appointees' relationships. Efficiency and cyber security in government depends on you and your committee.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above