ATF from the inside
I've received the attached pdf file (small, 134K) from someone in the know. It details ATF agents' complaints regarding how managers are conducting themselves. Here are a few snippets:
" Field agents have attempted to challenge the un-ethical, and illegal actions of field managers through various means in recent years only to meet with retaliation so destructive it almost inevitably results in the challenges or allegations being withdrawn."
" Fear of ATF leadership has replaced transparency. Lack of trust and the absence of good faith in trying to resolve these issues have caused a growing number of Agents to rely upon legal means to invoke the protections and seek redress. Record numbers of EEOC, OIG, OSC, whistleblower and internal grievances face the new management team. Requests for congressional intervention by Agents across the country..."
"The EEOC complaints over the last 2 years number in the hundreds. The overwhelming percentage of which contain allegations of retaliation. "
" First impressions in the field are that Acting Director Michael Sullivan is a competent and professional leader who possesses the skill to lead the Bureau of ATF&E. However, he continues to act on filtered information from those who have created these problems. These problems and those responsible must be dealt with before the Bureau can restore trust in it management team.
With the appointment of Deputy Director Ronnie Carter and Assistant Director Billy Hoover, the signal was clear. The intent is/was to restore ethical and professional leadership to the Bureau.
Perhaps the problems are too significant to place on the shoulders of 3 men, or maybe the Bureau is beyond repair. Either way, the complaints continue as does the retaliation, abuse of authority and the climbing number of EEOC, OSC, OIG and internal grievance complaints."
Having worked in the bureaucracy, I can see the comment about the incoming director. The guy on top may be good, but he knows only what his assistant directors tell him, and they know only what the guys below them tell them, etc., etc. At each stage of this, information is filtered to remove bad news, protect your unit, protect your buddies, etc.. If you send up info that makes your unit look bad -- that's gonna hurt you when your superior does your yearly evaluation, right? By the end of the filtration, the guy in charge hears nothing but "Everything is being run perfectly, and there are no problems, and anyone who managed to get your ear about problems is a lying sack of offal." Then of course they hunt down the guy who talked. He's not a team player. He makes his bosses look bad. Jack him around, transfer him around, seek out excuses to give him a bad evaluation, maybe see if you can tag him with misconduct (hmmm... did he use his official car for a grocery run?).
The greatest fear of mid-level is that the boss may get unfiltered information. At Interior I was a simple staffer. Even my secretary didn't work for me -- she reported, like me, to my boss. Yet one day we received written orders that if the Secretary of Interior called us to ask for data on a legal case, we were to refuse to talk to him and tell him to go thru channels. (The order was given, and stuck, because our ultimate boss had in fact better White House connection than the Secretary. Our ultimate boss was a good guy, not a bureaucrat, so I'd wager the mid-level folks had gone to him with horror stories about the Sec. becoming a loose cannon if he got real data, and sold him on the idea).
[UPDATE in light of comment: I did start under Watt, in '82, but the Secretary under which this happened was Manny Lujan. I forget the Solicitor's name, but he was a good one, in this case I'd assume spun by mid-level management. The full story: the bean-counters, the admin people, came up with the idea of a litigation book, in which each case in which we were involved would have one page, no more and no less. The thought we were involved in a few hundred cases. It turned out to be many thousands. Sent by, in those days, a 1200 baud modem. The first try locked up the mainframe for a solid day. Afterwards, each office had to send them in by floppy, sent overnight. Then someone in HQ had to review them lest the horrific sin, a typo, be found. But our corrections didn't go back to the author, so next month would have the same typos...
Anyway, at the bottom of each page was " For further information contact: John Smith, 208-0124." A bureaucrat knew that mean John Smith was handling the matter, kindly do not think you can contact him, you go thru channels. Lujan, who was a nice guy, didn't understand that, actually read the briefing books -- by now a set of about six big three-ring binders -- and calling people. Hence all the uproar. He was getting raw data, from someone who actually knew what was going on!
In those days, we called ourselves OPs, Omnipotent Peons.]