The alleged abuses by Human Resources can be traced to the lack of a permanent inspector general. "My case is a window into a larger problem. At the first level, it's a degradation of the personnel system, clearly. If you step up another level, you're looking at a degradation of the administrative, logistical, and support functions of the State Department. You have the problems in Benghazi, the problems with contracting in Iraq. You have an across the board problem with the administrative side of the State Department -- personnel, contracting, security, the Foreign Service Institute budget, procurement, and so on."
"These problems have been going on for many years, and there's never been any involvement that I've seen by the politicos. They don't pay as much attention to the administrative side. They don't understand it, certainly. They're there to do policy and they tend not to see a lot of these things, which are run by career Foreign Service and civil service. I think what the State Department has had, unfortunately, is a lack of oversight. There hasn't been a truly functioning inspector general at State for several years, and at the end of the day, you're looking at a massive failure of oversight."
Wadelton did not want to be a whistleblower. "The thing is that I haven't spoken to other whistleblowers and I don't really know how it works," she said. "I didn't so much start it as stumble into it. For me it's been like peeling an onion."
On Wednesday, there will be a hearing to decide whether or not there is a public interest in disclosing the internal agency emails and other such records that would prove Wadelton's allegations. These files would presumably document the misconduct she has been complaining about -- not only shedding light on her case specifically, but also exposing the underlying pervasive problems in the system.
No one at State should be surprised if irregularities are discovered in Foreign Service promotions, if only because the State Department itself has admitted to the problem. As reported in the results of a March 2010 internal investigation of the Foreign Service selection board process:
At the conclusion of board deliberations, each member is supposed to sign the transmittal memoranda and lists documenting the board's decisions. Several former board members asserted that [Human Resources/Performance Evaluation] remitted lists to the Director General absent that board member's certiﬁcation or with results at variance with the member's recollections. Notes taken by board members deliberately are destroyed after a board is dismissed. Thus it was not possible for OIG to verify to what extent there may be problems in this regard. [Emphasis mine.]
And yet the same report, in a supreme act of schizophrenia, called the process "fundamentally fair and trustworthy." This is one reason why a vetted, Senate-approved, truly independent inspector general is so sorely needed at the Department of State.