WASHINGTON - Today, the Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Oversight held a hearing on the United States Capitol Police Office of Inspector General. USCP Inspector General Mr. Ron Russo testified.
In case you missed it, here are the top takeaways:
1. The U.S. Capitol Police Board has stalled the OIG from making its reports public.
Committee on House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil (WI-01): "How many U.S. Capitol Police Office of Inspector General reports have been made public?"
Russo: "Two, sir."
Chairman Steil: "Out of how many?"
Russo: "You mean the universe of all reports? We've completed, since inception of the office, about six hundred and fifty reports.
Chairman Steil: "And two were made public?"
Russo: "Yessir." ... Chairman Steil: "Do you currently feel that you have the full authority to make reports public, or it is does someone else control that decision?
Russo: "The [USCP] Board makes the decision on a case-by-case basis."
2. Following accusations of retaliation against USCP whistleblowers, the OIG committed to protecting whistleblowers.
Congressman Anthony D'Esposito (NY-04): "We've heard from multiple individuals in different hearings that have spoken to this committee alleging that the previous OIG received whistleblower information about intelligence failures on January 6th under former Acting Chief Pittman. Subsequently, the individuals were placed on a performance improvement plan and eventually forced out of the department. Do you, as the IG and in your previous capacities, do you consider this retaliation?
Russo: "I'm not familiar with the situation or the details so it's hard for me to make a judgment. I would submit to the Committee that it's one of the most important things we do to be able to protect these complainants and that any disclosure of that information is inappropriate. We want to protect them from retaliation, and I can't speak to the specifics of that issue but I can assure this committee that's a top priority for us. ... Rep. D'Esposito: "I guess the question I really have for you is: Are you committed to conducting a full investigation and providing a report to this committee of your findings?"
3. U.S. Capitol Police OIG recommendations are often marked closed in spirit rather than in full compliance.
Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Barry Loudermilk (GA-11): “If that recommendation is marked complete, but then modified, how do we know that? It really only matters if they’re implemented the way that they were recommended… otherwise you’re undermining the spirit of the recommendation….We may have to go back and review all the recommendations... Would appreciate a list of those recommendations that were completed less than 100 percent.”
4. The OIG must investigate the Department's policies on leave without pay, following accusations of improper leave by former acting Chief.
Congressman Morgan Griffith (VA-09): "Leave policies with the department stipulate that an officer, to be eligible to receive leave without pay, must indeed have an expectation of returning to full-time duty. However, former Assistant Chief Pittman had accepted a job located across the country at the time she was placed on leave without pay. Have you opened an investigation or have you looked into this matter?
Russo: "We did a cursory review of the matter."
Rep. Griffith: "Did you come up with a conclusion? Or do you need to do more investigation?"