Treasury Finds Procurement Law Broken

By Larson, Ruth | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 25, 1997 | Go to article overview

Treasury Finds Procurement Law Broken


Larson, Ruth, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


The agency that regulates some of the nation's largest banks has been violating federal contracting laws and punishing employees who threatened to blow the whistle, according to documents obtained by The Washington Times.

Senior officials at the Treasury Department's Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or OCC, also ordered employees to cover up their actions by cleaning out files before Treasury auditors arrived, an interim report by the Treasury Department's inspector general found.

Several OCC employees quit their jobs rather than participate in what they believed were "illegal and unethical procurement activities," the report said.

The OCC settled one employee's grievance in the matter for more than $250,000, according to the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency that conducted a separate investigation into charges of employee retaliation.

Rep. Spencer Bachus, Alabama Republican and chairman of the House Banking Committee's oversight panel, has demanded an explanation for the "openly defiant" attitude toward federal law at the agency responsible for regulating nationally chartered banks.

In a letter to Comptroller of the Currency Eugene Ludwig earlier this month, Mr. Bachus wrote, "Documented evidence shows clearly that at times the OCC has knowingly operated in violation of the law and resisted outside efforts to enforce compliance.

"Furthermore, when OCC employees have questioned this practice, there is reason to believe that OCC senior management has reacted with retaliation and retribution," he wrote.

"For any federal financial regulator to operate in open defiance of the law and permit an atmosphere of intimidation is troubling and cannot be tolerated," Mr. Bachus wrote.

In his response to Mr. Bachus Thursday, Mr. Ludwig said he took the charges "very seriously" and pledged the OCC would soon be in full compliance with all relevant procurement rules.

OCC spokesman Robert Garsson added, "It wasn't clear by any means that we were subject to federal procurement rules. …

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