VA CIO erred in firing Martinez, judge rules

Fired deputy assistant secretary must be reinstated

Roger Baker, CIO and assistant secretary for information and technology at the Veterans Affairs Department, was wrong to fire a former deputy assistant secretary in the information and technology office, a federal administrative judge has ruled.

The VA must reinstate Katherine Adair Martinez, former deputy assistant secretary for information protection and risk management, to that position, effective retroactively to Feb. 5, 2010, ruled Lynn Yovino, administrative judge with the Merit Systems Protection Board on April 1.

Martinez, who worked in the Bay Pines, Fla. field office, was the subject of an August 2009 report from the VA's inspector general (read it here) that said investigators had determined that Martinez misused her position, abused her authority, engaged in prohibited personnel practices, failed to provide proper contract oversight and did not fulfill her duties as a contracting officer’s technical representative.

The IG's report was forwarded to Baker, who generally agreed with it. Subsequently, formal charges were filed and Baker upheld the charges and ordered Martinez’ removal from her position effective Feb. 5, 2010.

However, the administrative judge found a possible due process violation in the proceedings, and on that basis reversed the VA’s removal and ordered back pay for Martinez.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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