- The Washington Times - Monday, July 1, 2002

A whistleblower who revealed more than $150,000 worth of mismanagement at the National Capital Planning Commission will receive a federal public service award next week for her disclosure.
Cindy L. Snyder, a former administrative assistant for budget and accounting at the planning commission, reported accounting discrepancies that prompted the suspension of the NCPC's chief operating officer, Connie M. Harshaw. Tomorrow, Miss Snyder will receive the U.S. Office of Special Counsel's (OSC) annual Public Service Award.
"Ms. Snyder's disclosures resulted in comprehensive investigations, which revealed significant violations of law," OSC special prosecutor Elaine Kaplan said.
The Washington Times last week first reported the OSC's investigation of Mrs. Harshaw.
The OSC found that, under Mrs. Harshaw's direction, the commission illegally charged $153,187 in fiscal year 1997 payroll expenditures to fiscal 1998, a violation of the Anti-Deficiency Act. The federal law requires payroll charges in federal agencies to be paid out of funds for the fiscal year in which these expenses are incurred.
The probe also confirmed Miss Snyder's accusations that the planning commission in 1998 charged $832,021 to accounts from previous years, dating to fiscal 1992. OSC officials say they have been unable to prove which commission official authorized the expenditures.
Miss Snyder has been unavailable for comment. Sources familiar with the case say she is working for another federal agency and is declining to comment.
Mrs. Harshaw has repeatedly denied the charges, saying the bookkeeping decisions in question originated not with her but her staff, which included Miss Snyder.
Mrs. Harshaw also said that when Miss Snyder complained to the OSC, "there was a threat of personnel action" against the former staffer.
Mrs. Kaplan said she was "disappointed" by Mrs. Harshaw's comments, "which unfairly disparaged Ms. Snyder's motives in coming forward" to the OSC.
The remarks were "a strategy employed to deflect attention away from the wrongdoing [Miss Snyder] has revealed," Mrs. Kaplan said.
In a letter to Congress and President Bush last week, Mrs. Kaplan complained that the commission a 12-member board appointed to oversee plans for federal buildings and monuments in the region has failed to adequately punish Mrs. Harshaw.
Mrs. Harshaw served a 15-day suspension in three-day increments that included weekends from November to January, according to documents obtained by The Times.
Ash Jain, a lawyer for the commission, has said that "appropriate disciplinary action has been taken" against Mrs. Harshaw, and that the commission has implemented bookkeeping reforms to ensure laws are not broken.


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