Webb says she was fired for raising concerns about improper use of D.C. funds

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Ms. Webb said she brought the matter to the attention of Renee McPhatter, general counsel to the employment services agency, who passed Ms. Webb’s concerns along to Brian K. Flowers, general counsel to the mayor’s office. Neither Ms. McPhatter nor Mr. Flowers returned a call for comment.

Ms. Webb said she also informed D.C. Budget Director Eric Goulet and met with D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi to discuss the matter. She said Mr. Gandhi told her the fiscal 2012 budget could address her concerns and that as director she could address the issue in the 2011 budget. Current action could require a supplemental budget measure to cover more than $5 million in funds already committed, she said, or risk the program not meeting its payroll obligations.

Mr. Gandhi’s office said in an email that those are policy decisions for the employment services agency, the mayor and the council.

The mayor’s office did not respond directly to questions for this article. But Department of Employment Services spokesman Neville Waters said Mr. Gray “out of an abundance of caution” has made arrangements to shift Project Empowerment funding away from workers’ compensation funds for the current fiscal year while the practice undergoes legal review. The 2012 budget for the program will not rely at all on workers’ compensation funds, he said.

“They didn’t want to fix it for FY 2011, and Metro wanted their money back, so I persisted,” Ms. Webb said. “The mayor when he hired me said he wanted honesty and integrity.”

Council member Michael A. Brown, at-large independent who oversees the employment services agency, said Project Empowerment was doing a good job and should be preserved. He declined to comment on Ms. Webb’s decision to fire Mr. Jones and said his committee is still studying the budget issue.

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