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Homeland Security OIG probed Spires situation

Richard Spires at HOGRC on 022713

Richard Spires resigned as DHS CIO on May 7. (File photo)

Richard Spires' May 7 resignation as Department of Homeland Security CIO put an end to his long and unexplained absence, but the questions and inquiries continue -- first from Capitol Hill, and now from DHS's Office of Inspector General.

FCW has learned through multiple sources that the OIG conducted an investigation into Spires' situation – which included an interview with Spires after his leave began on March 15. Two sources confirmed that the OIG submitted its findings to DHS management on May 8, one day after Spires resigned.

The contents of the investigation have not been made public, and when reached by FCW for comment, a DHS OIG official said the office does not discuss its investigative work.

DHS officials have maintained throughout that Spires went on elected leave for reasons unspecified – the agency does not comment on personnel matters – and confirmed that Deputy CIO Margie Graves continues to serve as the acting CIO. DHS officials also stated that Spires' leave was not related to testimony he missed before the House Homeland Security Committee's Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee on March 19.

Yet several sources, both inside DHS and out, told FCW that Spires' leave -- while officially elected rather than administrative -- was not of his choosing, and may have been precipitated by fundamental disagreements regarding CIO authority over department-wide budgeting and purchasing of commodity IT. One former senior official at DHS who asked not to be named told FCW that "there is definitely more to it" and defended Spires' service at the agency.

The OIG investigation is a second formal inquiry into the matter. House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) penned a letter on April 19 to DHS, asking for answers about Spires' absence.

The inquiry asked the agency to provide an explanation for Spires "being placed on either voluntary or non-voluntary leave on March 15," three days before the subcommittee was notified that Spires' March 19 scheduled testimony would instead come from Graves.

The inquiry, which also included a series of questions regarding Graves' background and job history, instructed DHS to respond by May 6. Thus far, DHS has not responded to that inquiry.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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