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HHS official’s resignation letter: Take This ‘Profoundly Dysfunctional’ Job and Shove it

By Al Kamen and Colby Itkowitz

Frustrated by a federal government bureaucracy that was “profoundly dysfunctional” and that left him “offended as an American taxpayer,” the director of a Department of Health and Human Services agency detailed his grievances in a pointed resignation letter.

For two years, David Wright ran the Office of Research Integrity, responsible for reviewing any misconduct in research projects. But Wright, in a letter obtained and published by ScienceInsider, said the role was “the very worst job I have ever had” the majority of the time.

Wright asserts in the letter, addressed to Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, that government officials care more about their own advancement than the public good:

Since I’ve been here I’ve been advised by my superiors that I had ‘to make my bosses look good.’ I’ve been admonished: ‘Dave, you are a visionary leader but what we need here are team players.’ Recently, I was advised that if I wanted to be happy in government service, I had to ‘lower my expectations.’ The one thing no one in OASH [Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health] leadership has said to me in two years is ‘how can we help ORI better serve the research community?’ Not once.

Wright alleges in the letter that Koh himself described his office as operating in an “intensely political environment.”

No comment so far from OASH, HHS or the White House on Wright’s takedown.

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