State Department OIG Reviews Politicization, Improper Personnel Practices

A State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) report released this month reviewed allegations of mismanagement at the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO). The report details “deficiencies and mistreatment” of career employees by leadership and management within the department.

The OIG report found that IO Bureau management failed to meet the department’s Leadership and Management Principles. Nearly every employee interviewed raised concerns about leadership and mistreatment. The report focused on the actions of Assistant Secretary for IO, Kevin Moley, and Mari Stull, former Senior Advisor to Assistant Secretary Moley. The investigation was prompted by reports that Stull was vetting the political affiliation and views of career employees.

Assistant Secretary Moley and Stull were repeatedly accused of hostile behavior, circumventing proper chain of command, and criticizing employees for following established procedures rather than “fighting hard enough” to meet their demands.

The OIG provides one example in which, “In April 2018, Ms. Stull asked a mid-level employee, without going through the employee’s supervisors, for information about another nation’s contributions to the UN. Ms. Stull did not believe the data provided was accurate, called the work product “garbage,” and threw it at another employee.”

Employees also reported several instances in which Stull referred to career employees as “Obama holdovers,” “traitors,” or “disloyal” to the current administration. Stull is also noted to have accused employees of being part of the “deep state”, and the Assistant Secretary reportedly also accused employees of “undermining the President’s agenda.”

The report also notes that Stull retaliated against employees who pointed out her conflict of interest on matters relating to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, which previously employed Stull.

Despite employee and management complaints, both Stull and Assistant Secretary Moley’s actions continued.

The OIG raised further concerns about a lack of merit based personnel actions by Moley. Moley and Stull are alleged to have deliberately left certain vacant positions open to “reflect the President’s agenda.”

For example, the OIG notes that Moley left leadership positions within the UN Human Rights Council open because “he knew at that point that the U.S. was planning to withdraw from the HRC… However, OIG found evidence that the decision to withdraw was still being debated on the date that Assistant Secretary Moley instructed the DAS not to fill the position and that the decision was not formally reached until June.”

The report concludes that IO leadership has still not adequately addressed these concerns, which has led to a serious morale problem within IO, as well as the departure of a significant number of career staff.

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