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Mayor-elect’s aide faulted in dismissal of Amtrak IG

- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 12, 2010

D.C. Mayor-elect Vincent C. Gray hailed Amtrak executive Lorraine Green's more than 25 years of government and private-sector experience when he put her in charge of both his campaign and transition team.

But within days of Mr. Gray beating Mayor Adrian M. Fenty in the mayoral race, a little-noticed congressional report raised sharp questions about Ms. Green in connection with the controversial dismissal of a longtime former Amtrak inspector general.

Republicans say former Inspector General Fred Weiderhold was forced out of his job after issuing a series of reports that uncovered waste and fraud in Amtrak's executive ranks.

After Mr. Weiderhold's abrupt departure, Amtrak officials tapped Ms. Green, head of human resources at Amtrak, which has about 19,000 employees, to be interim inspector general. During her months in the interim job, congressional investigators said Ms. Green delayed the release of a report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) that scrutinized the very Human Resources Department she oversaw at Amtrak.

In addition, she also impeded a salary increase for one of the OIG employees involved in the human resources report, according to findings released by Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, and Rep. Darrell Issa, ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

In the report, the lawmakers also concluded that Ms. Green was a poor choice by Amtrak's Board of Directors for the interim inspector general's position.

"The board's actions following its removal of Weiderhold exacerbated the appearance that it was inappropriately attempting to control the OIG," investigators wrote in the report.

"The board appointed Lorraine Green as interim IG, who, as the vice president for human resources, was a member of Amtrak's management team and intended to return to the position.

"Her inherent conflicts of interest, lack of independence and lack of IG experience rendered her an inappropriate choice for the position," the report said.

The report portrays Ms. Green as doing Amtrak management's bidding.

Once named the interim inspector general, at the request of Amtrak management, Ms. Green hired three outside consultants for three months to interview OIG employees as part a review.

One employee told investigators that some felt like they were reinterviewing for their jobs.

Through an Amtrak spokesman, Ms. Green declined to comment on the report. And a spokeswoman for the Gray transition team did not respond to questions e-mailed by The Washington Times last week.

Even as Ms. Green was put in charge of both Mr. Gray's mayoral campaign and his transition team, she has continued to oversee human resources for the government-owned rail company, which reported more than $1.6 billion in salary and wage expenses in 2009.

An Amtrak spokesman said officials cleared Ms. Green to accept the positions in the Gray campaign and transition team.

"As chairman, Lorraine was not responsible for day-to-day campaign activities and performed the duties she had during her personal time," Amtrak spokesman Steve Kulm said of Ms. Green's work with the Gray campaign.

"Likewise, as the leader of the transition team, she is doing that work on her own time," he said.

"Prior to accepting the positions, she sought and received guidance and clearance from Amtrak. It was determined that her activities are within the guidelines of Amtrak's own ethics and conflict of interest policies and other applicable laws."

In announcing Ms. Green as its chairman, the Gray transition team referred to her on its web site — www.graytransition2010.org — as "a corporate executive with more than 25 years of private sector and government experience in the areas of financial management, procurement, contracting and human resources."

A biography of Ms. Green on the Gray website also notes that she is a native of Washington and a D.C. Public Schools graduate who was twice confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the deputy director of the Office of Personnel Management and as a member of the bipartisan U.S. Census Monitoring Board.

In a profile of Mr. Gray that appeared in The Washington Post in September, Mr. Gray referred to Ms. Green as his closest friend and adviser. They first met when Mr. Gray was in charge of the city's Department of Human Services under then-D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt.

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