- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The former head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was responsible for costly design changes at the ATF’s new Washington headquarters and ordered hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary upgrades to his personal suite, a report said yesterday.

The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General said Carl J. Truscott, who resigned in August, “encouraged and approved” changes at the Northeast Washington headquarters that were “related more to appearance … than to functionality” and proposed structural changes to the gym that included the purchase of $100,000 in new equipment.

The report said Mr. Truscott immersed himself “in details at a level that we would not expect of the director of a major law enforcement agency” shortly after his arrival at the agency in 2004 — after construction had begun.

It said senior ATF managers took the lead in scaling back the project and canceling many upgrades requested or authorized by Mr. Truscott.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine said investigators identified several “overarching concerns” with respect to Mr. Truscott’s leadership and management, and said he “attempted to deflect responsibility to his subordinates, misrepresented the amount of involvement he had in the actions, or otherwise sought to distance himself from his own decisions.”

Mr. Truscott, in a letter to Mr. Fine, said investigators found no evidence substantiating “a single allegation relating to administrative misconduct” but released a report that was negative in tone and impugned his character and integrity.

He said the report “second-guesses my professional judgment, discretionary decisions and management style based upon criticisms from unidentified sources.”

“I believe strongly in the inspector general concept, but inspectors general, given their awesome powers, have an obligation to be impartial and fair, to, make judgments based upon legal norms and a careful review of the facts, and to operate within their statutory mandates,” he said. “Nothing in the Inspector General Act gives you the license to second-guess professional discretionary judgments.”

The report also questioned:

• Mr. Truscott’s hiring policy that resulted in 950 new agents and other personnel but contributed to a $21 million decrease in the agency’s operating budget. The report said the policy went forward despite repeated warnings by senior officials and was a major reason ATF could not buy necessary investigative equipment, including bulletproof vests for its agents.

• The number of ATF employees Mr. Truscott took with him on trips, including a September 2005 visit in London with members of London’s Metropolitan Police Service. The report said eight ATF officials accompanied Mr. Truscott, costing the agency $37,000, including four security personnel, although London police had provided protection for him and the meeting place was secure.

• Mr. Truscott’s order to ATF employees to assist his nephew in making a video for a high school project. The report said Mr. Truscott improperly allowed government property and official time of ATF personnel to be used in connection with the project.

• An order by Mr. Truscott to two female administrative staffers to assist in preparing for and serving lunches to him and his guests — telling them how he wanted the meals prepared and served. It said ATF employees confirmed that on at least one occasion, Mr. Truscott directed one of the staff members to announce, “Lunch is served.”

The ATF headquarters building had been budgeted in 2004 at $119.7 million, but is expected to cost more than $140 million when it is completed this year.

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