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Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
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A New Feature for the Blog: Findings of the Government's Official Investigators

POSTED: 03:36 PM ET, 05/19/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Welcome to a new feature that will appear here frequently. "Washington Watchdogs" will cherry-pick the reports, audits and testimonies generated by the federal government's inspectors general, the Government Accountability Office and others.

Today we look at reports examining child neglect in group homes; the resignation of a Naval officer over an illicit affair; funding problems at the clean-up of the Los Alamos National Laboratory; and the Drug Enforcement Administration's problem with security clearances.

Child Neglect Reported Nationwide At Group Homes

More than two-dozen states reported at least one death in residential youth facilities in 2006, and data given to the Department of Health and Human Services shows that 34 states reported more than 1,500 incidents of abuse and neglect by staff at partially federally-funded group homes, boot and wilderness camps in 2005.

And the problem of child abuse at such group facilities is more widespread than the numbers indicate, according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability office, due to barriers in obtaining accurate and complete information.

"Weaknesses in the current federal-state regulatory structure have failed to safeguard the civil rights and well-being of some of the nation's most vulnerable youth," the report says.

Recommendations include developing a way for officials to obtain case-file data from facilities and the inclusion of those facilities in federal oversight reviews and and on-site visits by case workers.

Navy Admiral Lied About Affair, Report Says

Former Navy Rear Adm. John D. "Boomer" Stufflebeem lied to investigators about a sexual affair he had with a fellow federal employee, including liaisons in the White House in 1990, according to a Defense Department inspector general's report.

Stufflebeem, a 56-year-old career naval aviator who was the Pentagon's public face in the invasion of Afghanistan, was canned in March after an anonymous letter sent to inspector general investigators led to a probe of the three-star admiral and 37-year naval veteran. He was later convicted by a naval judicial panel of making false statements to investigators.

The affair, which began in 1991 when Stufflebeem was a naval aide to former President George H.W. Bush, lasted about eight months and included a tryst in the White House, the report says. When his superiors found out in 1999, Stufflebeem was reassigned to the Pentagon.

Stufflebeem "categorically denied" the accusations, according to the report, admitting to only one inappropriate "kiss" with the female federal employee referred to only as "Jane Doe."

"[I] find it extremely regrettable, in a case that has such far reaching implications for my career, that you have chosen to question my integrity," Stufflebeem wrote in a Feb. 22 letter to investigators. "The unfortunate truth in this case is that, as a result of lack of evidence to substantiate the allegation of a sexual relationship and in lieu of investigating the underlying allegations, you have chosen to accuse me of being untruthful as I defended myself against these allegations."

Funding Problems Stymie Clean-Up at Los Alamos

Hazardous waste in pits, trenches and landfills at Los Alamos National Laboratory will likely not be disposed of by 2015 in accordance with federal guidelines due to "funding constraints," an inspector general's report from the Department of Energy has found.

An audit shows that workers have experienced delays in removing high-activity transuranic waste -- which includes man-made radioactive compounds including plutonium -- from two areas on the site.

The national laboratory has been removing such waste from the facility since as early as 1943.

Officials wrote that it was unclear if the hazardous waste removal had been properly prioritized ahead of decontamination work that would follow the clean-up.

"We noted that facility decontamination and decommissioning was ranked significantly lower in funding priorities than remediation at Los Alamos, despite the fact that remediation work cannot be completed until the decontamination and decommissioning of facilities is finished," the report says.

Analyst Clearances Lacking at DEA, Report Finds

The Drug Enforcement Administration had about 12 percent of its intelligence analysts lack the proper security clearances essential to performing their jobs, says an inspector's general report from the agency.

Nineteen analysts had "secret" clearances instead of "top secret" clearances and 62 other analysts had not had their clearances reauthorized within the past five years, as required by federal law, the report found. One analyst did not have a security clearance at all.

Meanwhile, since 2004, the hiring pool of analyst applicants has dwindled from 268 to 95, causing the agency to experience "significant delays" in issuing intelligence reports. The DEA estimates it needs about 240 applicants in its hiring pool to meet its needs.

Among the chief problems for the lack of applicants was funding problems, namely that "the DEA absorbed $210 million in unfunded salary increases, congressionally mandated rescissions, streamlining initiatives that did not save money, and new administration mandates," the report says.

There were 710 DEA intelligence analysts stationed around the world as of March, the report said.

Ideas for other reports we should write about? E-mail

--Derek Kravitz

By Derek Kravitz |  May 19, 2008; 3:36 PM ET Washington Watchdogs
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