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 Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

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

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group