Another Inspector General in name only. Howard Krongard was confirmed as the State Department’s IG in May 2005. A letter of September 18, 2007 from Henry Waxman outlining his concerns noted,"One consistent element in these allegations is that you believe your foremost mission is to support the Bush Administration" and"your strong affinity with State Department leadership and your partisan political ties have led you to halt investigations, censor reports, and refuse to cooperate with law enforcement agencies." Krongard’s abrasive style and bad management have led to the resignations of his Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, the Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, the Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits, and the Counsel to the Inspector General. Of 27 investigator positions, only 7 are filled.
Despite State having spent $3.6 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan (two countries where corruption is endemic), Krongard refused to send any investigators to look into allegations of waste and fraud there and no investigation into the contracts themselves has been completed. He also torpedoed cooperation with the DOJ into First Kuwaiti the firm that has been hired (for $600 million) to build the new US embassy in Baghdad. First Kuwaiti has been accused of incomplete and shoddy work. When the electricity was turned on in the guard camp for the embassy, substandard wires melted. A subcontractor failed to certify that the construction site was free of mines or that underground tunnels were secure. First Kuwaiti has also been accused of forced labor in transferring Filipinos (who thought they were going to work in Dubai) to Baghdad, then confiscating their passports so they couldn’t leave, and subjecting them to physical and verbal abuse and poor living conditions.
Krongard prevented investigators from seizing evidence of procurement fraud (counterfeit computers with pirated software for a police academy) against a contractor in Afghanistan and hindered an investigation into weapons smuggling in Iraq by a private security contractor Blackwater.
He inappropriately passed on to Kenneth Tomlinson (item 107), head of the board of governors for the Voice of America, a letter from members of Congress requesting an investigation into Tomlinson’s conduct. Among other things, Tomlinson was accused of double billing for work done at the CPB and the VOA and billing for work not done for the VOA. What made Krongard’s action especially egregious was that the information he sent included the confidential complaints of a former Board employee.
In House hearings on November 14, 2007, Krongard showed to what lengths he would go to parse the truth. He denied initially ever having contacted Tomlinson and only later under further questioning admitted sending the letter not to Tomlinson but to Tomlinson’s executive director.
Krongard censored reports and withheld from Congress information about security problems at American embassies because he did not want the Department (and those who ran it) to look bad. And he did the same with regard to audits until material critical of the Department was excised.
Krongard’s brother joined security contractor Blackwater’s advisory board in July 2007. Blackwater was the subject of a State Department investigation as recently as the September 16, 2007 shootings of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad, but Krongard professed ignorance of his brother’s connection to the company at the same November 14, 2007 House hearings. The brother resigned his position with Blackwater on November 16, 2007.
On December 7, 2007, Krongard announced his resignation as IG to become effective around January 15, 2008.