- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 31, 2002

The D.C. inspector general yesterday released a report saying the Williams administration failed to follow normal hiring practices and to adequately check the credentials of Fire Chief Ronnie Few before he was hired two years ago.

D.C. Inspector General Charles C. Maddox also determined that Chief Few was responsible for submitting a false resume when the city hired him in 2000.

Mr. Maddox faulted the office of Mayor Anthony A. Williams and the D.C. Office of Personnel for failing to follow hiring procedures. He also found that the Office of Personnel violated city procurement rules when hiring the company that recruited Chief Few to head the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

Chief Few, whose last day in the department is today, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Tony Bullock, spokesman for Mr. Williams, said everyone in the administration should shoulder some blame for allowing Chief Few to be hired and for not checking his resume. He said the city is going to have to begin scrutinizing candidates for city jobs.

"We should all do a better job since there are people out there who are not as accurate with their resumes as they ought to be, even those in public office," Mr. Bullock said. "We're going to have to vet every resume with a nit comb. We aren't going to allow any more of this."

Chief Few initially had blamed a former co-worker in Georgia and the mayor's office for inaccuracies on his resume and biography, but Mr. Maddox said in the report the chief was responsible for the accuracy of his credentials.

"The issue is substantiated because Few is ultimately responsible for the submission of inaccurate information in furtherance of his application for the FEMS Chief positions," the report states.

"His failure to review his resume and his application materials at the time of their creation, at the time of submission to the District government, or at any time in between, was grossly negligent."

The Washington Post first reported that Chief Few's resume and biography incorrectly showed he held a degree from Morris Brown College in Atlanta and received an award from the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The report faults Mr. Williams' office for failing to properly supervise the recruitment firm to ensure Chief Few's credentials had been checked.

"[T]here was no responsible official in place to provide adequate oversight for the administration of the contract on behalf of the District government," the report says. "Such monitoring might have ensured that complete and comprehensive background investigations were conducted on all of the candidates."

Mr. Maddox recommended that the mayor's office begin a "comprehensive and uniform practice and policy" to investigate the background of all candidates for top jobs in the Williams administration.

"This policy should include a process that ensures that all of the information contained in the candidate's resume and other background information is accurate and complete," Mr. Maddox said in the report.

Mr. Bullock faulted Chief Few's involvement, but in the chief's defense said several versions of the resume were "floating around," and the chief accurately testified about his background before the D.C. Council.

"It is a sad day when you don't trust a public official to not to have a straight-forward resume," Mr. Bullock he said. "That is a sad commentary."

Chief Few leaves the department today after a turbulent 23-month tenure marked by declining morale among the 1,900-member agency, crumbling firehouses, and outdated vehicles and gear developments reported regularly by The Washington Times.

Mr. Maddox said Chief Few escaped criminal prosecution for making false statements on his job application, but he never completed his employment application. He said the U.S. attorney declined to prosecute.

He recommended that all executive-service employees be required to complete the D.C. Government Employment Application and be advised that the applicant can face criminal prosecution for any false statements.

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