OIG reports on investigations of sexual harassment in Forest Service

The OIG recommended that only contractor investigators or investigators from other Federal agencies be used for these complaints

The Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General has issued a report on how the Forest Service has handled investigations into complaints of sexual misconduct and harassment within the agency. The document was released about the same time the Chief of the FS resigned while facing allegations of sexual misconduct disclosed on the PBS NewsHour program.

The objective of the report was to evaluate the effectiveness of the investigations. The FS is part of the Department of Agriculture, so this process was basically an internal investigation.

The OIG found through interviews with 69 current and former FS employees in Region 5 (California) that 33 of them expressed some level of mistrust in FS’ process for handling sexual harassment and sexual misconduct complaints.

The OIG recommended that for a year the FS try using only contract investigators or investigators from other Federal agencies. The FS agreed with this recommendation and stated they could implement it by March 30, 2019.

The entire 9MB OIG report is here, and below is a graphic from the document.

Office of inspector general sexual harassment

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

5 thoughts on “OIG reports on investigations of sexual harassment in Forest Service”

  1. USDA OIG-Audit recommendation to the Forest Service is without question some good advice that should be a no brainer. The use of contract investigators to help management resolve sexual harassment cases and complains is only good business.
    Most if not all contract investigators are retired OIG and Forest Services 1811-Criminal Investigators. They have many years of experience and impeccable credentials to maintain confidentiality and get to the truth of the matter.

  2. An accusation of sexual harassment accomplishes three things. It places the accuser in a protected status with all its perks and privileges, it greases the skids for transfers and promotions (up and out) and it gets a superior out of the way for the advancement of more politically favored subordinates. Been there, saw that. It is to everybody’s advantage to heed that part of their performance objectives. The stuff rolls downhill, as they say. By the time it flows from the mountaintops to the lower forests, the bureaucratic hose lay has a lot of pressure in it.

    1. it is so wrong to think that the accuser is placed in a protected status. please read the horrific stories of women who sustained retaliation after complaining of harassment.

    2. It does none of these things “Bob”; obviously, you know nothing of the living hell a victim has to endure before they can even work up to filing the complaint in the first place.

      Once a final determination has been made, usually in favor of the Agency, it’s back to business as usual….


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