Washington, D.C. (Feb. 14, 2019)—Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, the Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources; Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform; and Rep. Jackie Speier, the Chairwoman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, issued the following statement in response to a new report from the Department of Agriculture Inspector General identifying numerous failures by management in U.S. Forest Service Region 5. The report is available at https://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/08601-0008-41.pdf.

“Given the number of complaints of harassment and retaliation we continue to receive from current and former Forest Service employees, we are deeply concerned about the Forest Service’s commitment to addressing these failures.  This is an urgent matter and a top priority for us this Congress. We will ask the Inspector General and the Forest Service to brief us on these new findings.  We will also ask the Inspector General to review the entire agency’s processes for addressing sexual harassment and misconduct.”

The report found that the Forest Service failed to:

  • Identify applicants with a history of sexual harassment or misconduct;
  • Act on allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct in a timely manner; and
  • Document decisions to impose penalties on employees who engaged in sexual harassment or misconduct that were less severe than those called for in agency guidance.