Inside the Obama administration’s ‘miserable’ internal feud with an employee who accused another of stealing her research
In the days before she filed her resignation, Heather Podesta told her boss that she had a conflict of interest because her former employer had sent a “snowflake” who’d written her thesis about the death penalty to her office.
She said she didn’t know how to resolve the situation and she wanted to “let it go.”
A month later, her boss, then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice, issued a memo to staff saying that it was “not appropriate” to speak about the issue with anyone.
The same day, the Department of Homeland Security revoked the security clearance of another staffer, one who had been accused of plagiarism, after it emerged that he’d plagiarized an academic article by the same name.
The two incidents highlight how internal conflicts can undermine research efforts and undermine research ethics, and it raises the prospect that the Trump administration could go beyond just removing those who break the law.
As the administration has grown more secretive, some have criticized its efforts to block leaks and stifle dissent.
“It is very easy to find out what is going on inside of the administration,” said Scott Shane, a professor of management at the University of Washington who studies the effects of politics and bureaucracy on research.
“You can’t just keep people in check.
You can’t put the brakes on people who are acting on their own.
There needs to be a culture of being open and transparent about things.”
A few days before the second memo was issued, Podesta was approached by a colleague who wanted to hire her.
He asked her for help finding an academic adviser who’d been approved to do research for the administration.
Podesta said she’d heard the idea, and she was skeptical.
“She had an email in her inbox,” she said.
“I asked her to check it out.
There was no response.
She called me and said, ‘This email’s from the president’s office.
I’m not sure who it is.'”
The message was from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“Hi Heather, We have an important question for you.
We’re interested in hiring a consultant to assist us with the development of a research agenda for your department.
Do you have a position that fits the bill?”
It was a direct shot at Podesta, who had a job with the Office of Management and Budget, where she oversaw the Office for Science and Research.
“We don’t have a lot of time to go through all of this,” she told me.
“And I’m a pretty good communicator.
I don’t want to make this public.
I want to let people know what I was thinking.”
She added that she was unsure how much time she had left at the agency.
But it was enough to convince her to return to the White “because I thought, I’m going to be able to have this person on my team who can be a real voice.”
It was the start of a new era for Podesta and her boss.
Over the next year, the Office and Science and Policy began to develop a new strategy to deal with leaks.
The memo instructed Podesta to start gathering data on people she considered to be “reporters” for the White Houses Office of National Drug Control Policy.
She’d then ask them to send a draft of their research proposal to the administration for review.
She was instructed to use this data to vet the information and to make sure the WhiteHouse.gov website and other platforms were operating properly.
The new strategy came in response to the release of documents that detailed how the Office was coordinating with the Drug Enforcement Administration, which had an office in the Office, to fight against drug trafficking.
Podesta’s bosses wanted her to be part of the response, and they knew she’d be hard to replace.
So they hired a consultant, and Podesta began taking the role.
She would then receive a daily email from the Office.
“My boss would get emails from her,” said John C. Giannini, the head of the Office’s Office of Information Management.
“This was not something she did, she would never have done.”
Podesta would be the only employee of the Whitehouse to be fired over the course of her tenure.
She had been on the White house payroll for six years.
But she wasn’t allowed to speak to the press.
Instead, she was assigned a role as an assistant to the president on information technology and then a chief information officer for the Office on Science and Innovation.
The Whitehouse Office of the Information Technology Coordinator (OTIC) is responsible for managing the Office from within the executive branch.
The OITIC was created in the late 1990s to help solve technical problems and improve coordination between the Office in the Whitehouses Information Technology Office and other federal departments and agencies.
The role, as the White houses website explains, “provides a team of professionals who work together to develop information technology solutions that are integrated across federal agencies, including the White HOUSE.”
It is the job of