The saga of how Washington’s federal civil service struggles to keep on keeping on grows more and more bizarre. First there was the unpleasantly rough toilet paper in the EPA executive rest rooms. Next, a foul smell from the vents sent employees gagging into the hallways. Apparently someone had peed into the air conditioning system. Earlier this year there were reports of executive jostling in Tommy Thompson’s Health and Human Services Department over who gets to go into the protective bunker built for the high command should a terrorist seed the place with anthrax or some other chemical. And now comes a carefully coded but critical GAO bureaucratic report on the functioning of the HHS inspector general. Her name is Janet Rehnquist, and she’s the daughter of William Rehnquist, chief justice of the United States. Among other things, her fellow employees had raised questions because Rehnquist “obtained a firearm” from a deputized agent in her office without proper credentials. The underling who gave her the gun did so “because she did not want the Inspector General to have any difficulty gaining access to secured areas in the event of a terrorist incident.”
In March, under heavy fire from even some Republicans and with the GAO already investigating her, Janet Rehnquist announced that she was quitting, effective June 1. The GAO report was finally released last week.
Additional reporting: Phoebe St John and Joanna Khenkine