DHS Employees Need Off-Duty Drug, Prostitute Policies
While the Department of Homeland Security extensively prepares its employees for the work they will be doing during overseas trips, policies governing employee behavior during the off-hours, however, remain obtuse.
An inspector general’s report release June 6 examined the policies governing DHS’s 1,500 employees working overseas and found guidelines for off-duty behavior to be sorely lacking.
Questions of DHS’ policies arose after recent agents, employees, and military officers of the Secret Service, FBI, and Drug Enforcement Agency made questionable decisions during their off-duty hours while working abroad.
“To minimize the risk of misconduct and its potential negative effect on the Department’s ability to accomplish its mission, DHS should ensure it has comprehensive policies specifically addressing off-duty conduct abroad and make certain all employees traveling and working abroad are adequately trained and acknowledge and understand these policies,” the report stated.
The closest thing the department has is a management directive on ethical conduct that states, “All employees will maintain especially high standards of honesty, impartiality, character, and conduct to ensure the proper performance of government business and the continual trust and confidence of the citizens of the United States . . . These principles apply to official conduct as well as private conduct that affect in any way the ability of employees or the department to effectively accomplish the work of the DHS.”
Yet, the IG argued these limited policies did not adequately or specifically address the most important matters, such as how drug use and prostitution are legal in several countries, but engaging in such conduct runs counter to DHS’s core missions.
In contrast, the IG cited the State Department’s Foreign Service Manual as a model for what DHS could adopt. The manual allows for alcohol in moderation, threatens termination for use of illegal drugs, and acknowledges philosophical differences on private behavior involving prostitutes.
The manual does denounce “notoriously disgraceful conduct,” that, “were it to become widely known, would embarrass, discredit, or subject to opprobrium the perpetrator, the Foreign Service, and the U.S.”
The State Department calls out as unacceptable the following conduct: “Frequenting of prostitutes, engaging in public or promiscuous sexual relations, spousal abuse, neglect or abuse of children, manufacturing or distributing pornography, entering into debts that cannot be paid, or using one’s position or immunity to profit or favor another or create the impression of gaining or giving improper favor.”
Creating a departmentwide policy on overseas misconduct and greater training were the IG’s top recommendations. DHS agreed with most of the report, but “disagreed with the premise that to ensure proper behavior, conduct policy must specify that it also applies to employees traveling or working abroad,” the report said.
Posted in General News