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Ex-Pentagon official cited for ethical lapses

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department's top watchdog cited a former senior official overseeing chemical and biological technology for a variety of ethical lapses and misconduct, including improperly arranging to have people he knew outside the government hired to do work for the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

Alan Rudolph, the former director of the agency's chemical and biological technologies directorate, recruited people he knew to work for him and had several organizations, including George Mason University, hire them as employees to do work for his organization, according to findings by the Defense Department inspector general's office. The investigation was sparked by complaints that Rudolph was hiring his friends outside regulations.

Rudolph wanted to "recruit certain individuals," and manipulated the contracting process, which required the positions to be filled through a competitive bidding process, the report found.

The report dated Nov. 1, 2013, was obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request. It was completed months after Rudolph left the Fort Belvoir-based Defense Threat Reduction Agency in February 2013. He was named the vice president of research at Colorado State University in August 2013, while the investigation was ongoing.

Under the advice of his legal counsel, Rudolph declined to be interviewed by investigators unless they granted him immunity from criminal prosecution, the report said. The inspector general's office declined, and Rudolph responded through his attorney.

The report said that the lawyer, who is not identified, disagreed with the inspector general's findings, saying that Rudolph did not improperly push for additional personnel. The contractors, not Rudolph, had the ultimate decision on who to hire, his attorney said.

Rudolph said Thursday in an email that he stands by his attorney's comments in the report. He said he believes the inquiry was "motivated by those who wish to distract from the lack of performance" by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency in dealing with chemical and biological weapons defense. He also cited a decision, reported in 2011, in which the Pentagon cut back a $1 billion effort to develop new drugs that could help troops and civilians infected in germ warfare after the effort failed to yield enough results.

Jennifer Elzea, a Pentagon spokeswoman, declined to respond to Rudolph's allegation. The inspector general's office, however, discounted in the report Rudolph's contention that the third-party organizations had primary responsibility for ensuring that government regulations were followed in the hiring of employees contracted out to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

In addition to George Mason University, the outside organizations included the biotechnology firm Tauri Group, of Alexandria, Virginia, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, a federal laboratory focused on national security.

Officials with those organizations could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Washington Post staff writer Craig Whitlock contributed to this report.
 

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