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Barry West still missing at FDIC

Barry West, CIO of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

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.

About the Author

Zach Noble is a former FCW staff writer.

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