Letter to Chairman Issa, Chairman Mica and Ranking Member Grassley Regarding our Review of the Departure of Former Amtrak Inspector General Fred Weiderhold
On March 23, we issued a letter concerning our review of the departure of Mr. Fred Weiderhold, Amtrak's former Inspector General. Congressman Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Congressman John Mica, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Senator Charles E. Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary requested that we review whether Amtrak violated the Inspector General Act when it did not notify Congress 30 days prior to the departure of Mr. Fred Weiderhold. This review was within our jurisdiction because Amtrak is a DOT grant recipient. Our review showed that Amtrak's Board decided to allow Mr. Weiderhold to choose between accepting a separation agreement or having a 30-day notice of removal sent to Congress. Mr. Weiderhold chose to accept the separation agreement. The IG Act, which requires a 30-day notice letter prior to the removal of an Inspector General, does not define "removal." If "removal" is defined using Federal Civil Service employment law—the approach recently taken by the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit—Mr. Weiderhold's departure would not constitute a removal unless Amtrak's actions were sufficiently coercive to render Mr. Weiderhold's decision to leave office involuntary. In our review we did not find this level of coercion. We noted, however, that basing an analysis on Federal employment law may frustrate the intended purpose of the 30-day notice requirement to allow Congress to inquire into whether an Inspector General is departing for legitimate reasons.