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OMB investigation into OPM accusations continues

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 5:46 p.m. ET

The Office of Management and Budget continues to investigate allegations that a career civil servant made threatening remarks against the Office of Personnel Management's budget office, director Peter R. Orszag said Thursday.

But civil service laws prohibit him from sharing further information with Congress until the investigation is completed, he said in a letter sent Thursday afternoon to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“We look forward to getting to the bottom of this quickly," committee chairman Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) said.

The committee last week asked Orszag to launch an investigation into allegations by Patrick E. McFarland, inspector general of the Office of Personnel Management. McFarland told the House panel that OPM's budget office received a "not so veiled threat from OMB" against telling Congress of concerns about its budget.

The alleged threat appears to violate a federal law that allows inspectors general to inform Congress if they believe their proposed budgets would inhibit oversight duties. Congress crafted the law to protect government watchdogs from agency officials retaliating for hard-hitting investigations by cutting an inspector general's budget.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee made a similar request of Orszag on Thursday, calling McFarland's allegations "serious." It was not immediately clear if the director's response to the House will suffice.

McFarland's allegations follow last summer's political firestorm surrounding President Obama's decision to fire Gerald Walpin, inspector general at the Corporation for National and Community Service, and subsequent investigations led by Republican lawmakers. The Walpin affair came amid allegations of political interference at other agencies and the Library of Congress.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 21, 2010; 4:47 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Congress, Oversight  
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