Sex, drugs and corruption scandal hits US government department

September 11th, 2008 - 11:36 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 11 (DPA) US Department of Interior employees engaged in sex, illegal drug use, accepted gifts and steered federal contracts toward oil and gas companies, according to a wide-ranging internal investigation.Inspector General Earl Devaney’s report, more than two years in the making and released Wednesday, chronicled a “culture of substance abuse and promiscuity” and serious ethical violations among a small group of employees.

The scandal involves dozens of current and former department workers who awarded contracts and collected royalties from oil and gas companies drilling on federally owned land. Their action “has cast a shadow” over the entire department, Devaney wrote.

Devaney blasted the department’s senior management, which “through passive neglect, at best, or purposeful ignorance, at worst, was blind to easily discernible misconduct”.

Three senior executives manipulated the selection process and ensured that federal contracts were awarded to companies to which they had connections. More than one third of the Royalty in Kind (RIK) office staff accepted gifts with “prodigious frequency” from the major oil and gas firms they worked with, the report said.

Greg Smith, a supervisor of the programme, had sex and used illegal drugs with his subordinates, while at least two employees engaged in “brief sexual relationships” with their industry contacts.

“Internally, several staff admitted to illegal drug use as well as illicit sexual encounters. Alcohol abuse appears to have been a problem when RIK staff socialised with industry,” the report said.

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