Amtrak Transparency Troubles

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A couple weeks back, I wrote about the turmoil in the office of the Inspector General for Amtrak. More details have since come out. The head of that office for 35 years, Fred Weiderhold, Jr., it turns out, retired just one day after a independent report he had commissioned was released, documenting a number of actions by Amtrak management that interfered with his authority as the Congressionally appointed watchdog. (You can read the whole report by clicking the link at the end of this letter here from Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.)

Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post gives a succinct summary of what the report found.

It concluded that Amtrak lawyers frequently compromised his investigations by pre-screening documents and redacting certain pieces of information, sitting in on IG interviews with employees, contractors and vendors, and prohibiting Widerhold and his staff from sharing sensitive agency information with Congress unless they first reviewed it. Amtrak management has also claimed control of the $5 million provided to the Amtrak IG by the economic stimulus package, according to the analysis.

Yesterday, as O’Keefe points out, a bipartisan group in the House joined Grassley in raising alarm bells, demanding that Amtrak management respond to the concerns raised in the report. No response yet.