Report: Biden Fires RRB Inspector General

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) Inspector General Martin J. Dickman is out as of April 28, according to The Hill, which learned from a source that President Joe Biden was firing him “on the grounds of creating a hostile work environment.”

The President notified U.S. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) of the termination in a March 29 letter, according to The Hill, which reported that Biden “was presented with the findings of an investigation launched in January 2023 by the independent Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency after allegations against Dickman surfaced.

“The investigation found evidence that Dickman created a toxic work environment and engaged in abusive treatment, including using crude and inappropriate language like slurs, and belittling employees, according to the source.”

Dickman will be on “non-duty status of administrative leave effective immediately,” with his employment terminated April 28, the media outlet reported. Confirmed in 1994 under the Clinton Administration, Dickman served previously (1991-94) as a prosecutor for the Cook County, Ill., State’s Attorney’s Financial and Governmental Crimes Task Force and as a member of the Board of Trade for the City of Chicago (1972-1991). He is slated to be replaced by Ben R. Wagner, according to The Hill’s source; Wagner, Tennessee Valley Authority Inspector General, will maintain his current role and serve as Acting Inspector General for RRB.

“Under the Securing Inspector General Independence Act of 2022, the President must notify Congress 30 days prior to removing an inspector general,” The Hill reported. “The Biden Administration concluded that given the issues surrounding the toxic work environment—leading to Dickman’s firing—there was a need to bring in independent leadership from outside RRB, which is why Wagner was selected, the source said.”

The RRB is an independent agency in the Executive branch of the federal government. Its primary function is to administer comprehensive retirement-survivor annuities and unemployment-sickness benefits for the nation’s railroad workers and their families, under the Railroad Retirement and Railroad Unemployment Insurance Acts. As part of the retirement program, RRB also has administrative responsibilities under the Social Security Act for certain benefit payments and railroad workers’ Medicare coverage. The RRB Office of Inspector General conducts independent audits, reviews, and investigations of RRB programs and operations. It also provides recommendations for improvement to agency management to promote efficiency and economy, and identifies fraud and abuse in agency programs and operations. The Inspector General is a Presidential appointee, with Senate confirmation, who is said to serve as an independent and objective voice to both the RRB members and Congress.

According to The Hill, this is the first time Biden has fired an Inspector General “for cause. The President has terminated the employment of other Presidential-appointed and Senate-confirmed federal employees, including the former Architect of the Capitol, Brett Blanton, in 2023 after an inspector general report found he misused a government vehicle and allegedly impersonated a law enforcement officer. Biden also fired former Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul in 2021 after he refused to resign and has since appointed former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who was confirmed.”

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