Report Summary

Title: Alleged Misuse of Official Time and Possible Ethics Violation by an Information Technology Employee
Report Number: 17-04969-202 Download
Issue Date: 7/28/2020
VA Office: Office of Information and Technology (OIT)
Report Author: Office of Special Reviews
Report Type: Administrative Investigation
Release Type: Unrestricted

The Office of Special Reviews investigated allegations that a GS-14 employee in VA’s Office of Information and Technology misused his government email by sending personal emails during work hours, and also took advantage of his telework arrangement to handle personal matters during his duty hours. The OIG could not substantiate the misuse of official time or improper use of VA resources because the employee routinely worked outside of his regular duty hours with his supervisor’s approval, and VA has not established criteria defining how much personal use of VA email is excessive.

While investigating these issues, the OIG became aware that the employee had referred staff who were planning conferences for his group to his wife, a sales manager for a large hotel chain, and sent emails providing direction about the arrangements for these conferences. The staff subsequently booked rooms for these events at hotels for which the employee’s wife had sales responsibility. Although the staff made the decision and the arrangements were advantageous to VA, the OIG determined that the employee’s conduct appeared contrary to ethical rules prohibiting an employee from using his public office for “his own private gain, for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise, or for the private gain of friends, relatives, or persons with whom the employee is affiliated in a nongovernmental capacity….” The OIG made one recommendation relating to a supervisory review of the employee’s conduct and consideration of appropriate administrative action, if any. VA concurred with this recommendation.