HHS official resigns with scathing letter, rips ‘dysfunctional’ bureaucracy

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A top Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official resigned, accusing the agency of fostering a “dysfunctional” environment on the way out.

In a public resignation letter, David Wright, director of HHS’ Office of Research Integrity, listed several reasons for quitting his job, including frustrations with getting minor expenses approved, navigating department politics, and wasting time producing “repetitive and often meaningless data and reports to make our precinct of the bureaucracy look productive.”


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“I’m offended as an American taxpayer that the federal bureaucracy—at least the part I’ve labored in—is so profoundly dysfunctional,” Mr. Write wrote to Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, in a letter obtained by Science Insider March 12.

Mr. Wright wrote that his research was rewarding but that it only accounted for 35 percent of his job. The rest of his time was spent “navigating the remarkably dysfunctional HHS bureaucracy.”

According to Mr. Wright’s letter, tasks that took a couple of days at a university research center, required weeks or months and that the budget was micromanaged by senior officials.

“I needed to spend $35 to convert some old cassette tapes to CDs for use in [a] presentation. The immediate office denied my request after a couple of days of noodling. A university did the conversion for me in twenty minutes, and refused payment when I told them it was for an educational purpose,” Mr. Wright said.

He also wrote that Mr. Koh’s office had a “seriously flawed” culture, and that it was “secretive, autocratic and unaccountable.” He cited an example when Mr. Koh asked him to seek someone for a position that he urgently needed filled. Mr. Wright was told that the position was on a secret priority list of appointments. However, the position has not been filled after 16 months, he wrote.

The resignation letter was quickly picked up by critics of the White House’s rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

“If this is how the agency is run, it’s unsurprising the Obamacare roll-out was an abject disaster,” wrote Daniel Doherty for Town Hall.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Kellan Howell

Kellan Howell

Kellan Howell, an investigative reporter for The Washington Times, covers campaign finance and government accountability. Originally from Williamsburg, Va., Kellan graduated from James Madison University where she received bachelor’s degrees in media arts and design and international affairs with a concentration in western European politics.

During her time at JMU, she interned for British technology and business news website “ITPro” ...

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