Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas announced today that he has directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reform its employee misconduct discipline processes following the conclusion of the DHS General Counsel’s review of the discipline processes currently in effect throughout the Department. In April, it was reported that senior officials working for the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) “directed staff members to remove damaging findings from investigative reports on domestic violence and sexual misconduct.” Reportedly, a draft unpublished OIG report cited thousands of survey results in which employees who were surveyed indicated they had experienced sexual harassment or misconduct between 2011 and 2018. When Secretary Mayorkas was made aware of the report, he immediately launched a 45-day review into Department-wide employee misconduct discipline processes.
“Since I was sworn in as Secretary, I have made it one of our Department’s top priorities to champion our workforce and create a culture of excellence, openness, and accountability, where misconduct is not tolerated,” said Secretary Mayorkas, “The deeply concerning reports this spring underscored the need for urgent action to prevent and address harassment and other misconduct in the workplace. On April 7, 2022, I directed the Department’s General Counsel to conduct a 45-day review of the employee misconduct discipline processes currently in effect across DHS and to recommend any necessary improvements. Based on the results of that review, I have directed the Department to implement significant reforms to our employee misconduct discipline processes, including centralizing the decision-making process for disciplinary actions and overhauling agency policies regarding disciplinary penalties. Centralizing disciplinary processes will ensure that allegations of serious misconduct are handled by a dedicated group of well-trained individuals, who are not the employees’ immediate supervisors, at each DHS component agency. Reforming our policies regarding disciplinary penalties, including by providing more specific guidance, will promote accountability and ensure consequences are consistent and appropriate based on the severity of the misconduct. This important work is already underway and, as it proceeds through the coming months, DHS will continue to engage with the labor organizations representing our employees to ensure the continued protection of employees’ due process rights.”