Barry West still missing at FDIC
- By Zach Noble
- Jul 02, 2015
Barry West has been CIO for the FDIC, the National Weather Service, FEMA and the Commerce Department.
Nearly a month after FCW reported that Barry West was not in the office on June 4, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s CIO was still missing from duty.
FDIC spokeswoman Barbara Hagenbaugh confirmed that West had not returned to work as of July 1, and it remains unclear exactly when and why he first went on leave.
Multiple sources in government and industry have told FCW that West is facing an investigation over alleged misconduct in a previous government position. West served as CIO at the National Weather Service, FEMA and the Commerce Department between 2002 and 2007 before leaving federal service on Jan. 1, 2008.
He returned to government work in March 2013, becoming Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation CIO, and moved to the FDIC in December 2014.
FDIC spokespersons have stalwartly declined to say much about West’s absence over the past month, refusing to confirm to FCW when West might return or even the type of leave he was on.
Federal News Radio reported West’s leave was administrative, however, and when asked about that characterization by FCW, FDIC’s Hagenbaugh would not confirm or deny the type of leave.
Office of Personnel Management guidance states that “administrative leave is not an entitlement, and agencies are not required to grant it.” While clarifying that it does not regulate individual agencies’ administrative leave policies, OPM notes, “supervisors often place employees on administrative leave rather than utilizing other options that may be more appropriate.”
In an October 2014 report, the Government Accountability Office surveyed government and found that 97 percent of employees had charged 20 days or fewer of paid administrative leave over a three-year period.
Lengthy periods of leave, such as West’s, were rare, and, GAO noted that “the most common reason for which selected employees charged amounts relatively higher than the agency average, was for personnel matters, such as investigations into alleged misconduct.”Acting Chief Information Officer Martin Henning has taken over West’s work during his absence, Hagenbaugh said. And she confirmed that as of July 1, West was still an FDIC employee.
West has been a bit more visible in his now-concluded role as presidentof the board at the Association for Federal Information Resources Management. He attended AFFIRM's annual leadership awards dinner on June 17, and passed the gavel to Navy CIO Robert Foster.
AFFIRM board member Stacy Riggs told FCW that West had been expected to serve a second term as president, but subsequently decided not to continue his service when his first term ended. At least one board member disputed that characterization, but two others confirmed Riggs' version of events.
AFFIRM's bylaws state that "Resignation, retirement or administrative leave status from the Federal Government shall cause the Government Executive Board Officers to step down from their elected positions." There is no indication, however, that West relinquished his role as president before the first term concluded at the end of June.
West has not returned numerous phone calls and emails from FCW seeking comment over the past month.
Zach Noble is a staff writer covering digital citizen services, workforce issues and a range of civilian federal agencies.
Before joining FCW in 2015, Noble served as assistant editor at the viral news site TheBlaze, where he wrote a mix of business, political and breaking news stories and managed weekend news coverage. He has also written for online and print publications including The Washington Free Beacon, The Santa Barbara News-Press, The Federalist and Washington Technology.
Noble is a graduate of Saint Vincent College, where he studied English, economics and mathematics.
Click here for previous articles by Noble, or connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.