Long-Awaited Report Largely Clears Secret Service of 'Culture' Problem

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Overall, the report cites 824 incidents of employee misconduct over the past nine years, ranging from offenses such as "sleeping on the job" to "drugs and alcohol." In that same time period, the Secret Service suspended an employee's security clearance 195 times for alleged misconduct, with those suspensions becoming more frequent in recent years and nearly one-in-ten involving sexual behavior "that could cause a security concern."

Still, the inspector general's report concludes, Secret Service employees "do not frequently engage in behavior that causes a security concern."

The former director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, echoed that sentiment during a Senate hearing in May 2012 on the Cartagena scandal, when he apologized "for the misconduct of these employees and the distraction it has caused."

"The overwhelming majority of the men and women who serve in this agency exemplify our five core values of justice, duty, courage, honesty and loyalty," he testified. "On a daily basis, they are prepared to lay down their lives to protect others in service to the country. ... Clearly, the misconduct that took place in Cartagena, Colombia, is not representative of these volumes and of the high ethical standards we demand from our nearly 7,000 employees."

The new report, expected to be released later Friday, reiterates a previous account indicating that Sullivan and the rest of the Secret Service "responded expeditiously and thoroughly to the allegations" when word of the scandal first surfaced last year.

The report out Friday makes 14 recommendations "to improve the Secret Service's processes for identifying, mitigating, and addressing instances of misconduct and inappropriate behavior."

The recommendations focus primarily on enhancing the reporting and investigation of alleged misconduct.

In addition, a new Office of Integrity within the agency is expected to identify and address emerging issues within the agency. And even before investigators began their field work, the Secret Service began implementing recommendations from an outside group assembled by Sullivan, now with the Washington-based security firm GSIS.

Of the 13 agents first suspected of soliciting prostitutes in Cartagena, three were cleared of wrongdoing and returned to duty, six resigned or retired, and four had their clearances revoked or were removed, according to the report.

About 6,500 men and women make up the Secret Service. Less than half of those asked to complete the electronic survey actually did.

The inspector general's office has been in the midst of a controversy itself, with the head of the office facing allegations of misconduct while his investigators were looking into the Secret Service matter. Last week, Acting Inspector General Charles Edwards stepped down from his post and asked to be re-assigned elsewhere within DHS. President Obama had already nominated someone to take over the job.

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