April 6, 2014

AP Fails To Give Hillary Credit for an ‘Accomplishment’ at State: Presiding Over an Out-of-Control Agency

As I noted yesterday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when asked to identify a specific accomplishment during her tenure there, failed to answer the question, instead falling back on the Obama administration’s tired “we inherited a terrible economy” meme.

Never let it be said that yours truly doesn’t try to be helpful. Here’s an “accomplishment” I can attribute to Mrs. Clinton, though I suspect she won’t want to put it at the top of her resume as she promotes her anticipated presidential candidacy: presiding over an out-of-control agency. During each of the past four years, outside auditors have found that State had several “significant deficiencies” in its internal controls over financial reporting (of course, the last eight months of the most  recent year belong to current Secretary of State John Kerry). Additionally, State’s Inspector General recently identified “contracts with a total value of more than $6 billion in which contract files were incomplete or could not be located at all.” Though the IG’s report was released on Thursday, it conveniently escaped coverage by the Associated Press until Saturday afternoon. The unbylined AP report itself was cursory and inadequate:


Isn’t it impressive how the AP managed to keep Mrs. Clinton’s name out of a report which included all of her tenure?

Here’s another interesting point brought up by Brianna Ehley at the Fiscal Times on Friday: “Before (Inspector General Steve Linick) Linick took office last fall, the State Department had been without an inspector general position for five years—the longest inspector generaly vacancy in the government’s history.” It sure looks like Hillary Clinton wanted to make sure that she didn’t have anyone watching over her and her people.

The recommendations in the Inspector General’s report are hugely disappointing:

“OIG recommends that A/OPE develop and implement a process to randomly sample and verify the completeness ofcontract files …”

“OIG recommends that A/OPE provide the results of its reviews as set forth in recommendation one to the appropriate bureaus and offices …”

“OIG recommends that the Under Secretary for Management ensure that contracting officers and their supporting personnel, and A/OPE specialists conducting oversight visits, have resources sufficient to maintain adequate contract files in accordance with relevant regulations and policies.”

Note that there’s nothing about finding out who is responsible for the mess, and nothing about looking into and determining whether fraudulent or other criminal activities have taken place. Adding insult to injury, the third recommendation, in bureaucrat-speak, is a plea for more money and personnel.

The contract filing and documentation failures, which may be masking far more serious prolems of financial consequence, have received relatively litte coverage elsewhere in the establishment press.

As to State’s weak internal controls over financial reporting, here are tables identifying the weakness found from fiscal 2010 to 2013 — years during which only Barack Obama was in the Oval Office:


Unfortunately, many federal government agencies have been receiving reports such as these from internal and external auditors for as long as a decade or even more. The agencies’ reactions, including the State Deparment while Hillary Clinton ran it, have usually been to utter pieties about doing better. But for the most part, as seen in the tables above, nothing usually changes.

The fact that such deficiencies have existed throughout the government for some time doesn’t excuse the press’s routine failure, with AP as a dominant culprit, to report them as news — unless they believe that their role is really that of bureaucratic lapdogs and not public watchdogs, as they so often claim.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


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