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HHS Official Jumps Ship in Scathing Letter of Resignation: 'Worst Job I've Ever Had


"...offended as an American taxpayer."

A Department of Health and Human Services official resigned from his post in a scathing letter that ripped the agency for profound dysfunction.

David Wright, former director of (Image source: ORI) David Wright headed the Office of Research Integrity at the Department of Health and Human Services. (Image source: ORI)

David Wright headed the Office of Research Integrity for two years and wrote in his letter dated Feb. 25 that his time with the agency left him “offended as an American taxpayer.”

The job was apparently not only unsatisfying, it was downright offensive, Wright said in the letter, which was first obtained by ScienceInsider.

It was “the very worst job I have ever had,” he said.

The Office of Research Integrity is responsible for reviewing possible misconduct in agency research projects.

The letter details frustrating experiences Wright had to deal with, including the agency’s refusal to give him $35 to convert cassette tapes to CD and the agency’s refusal to let him fill a vacancy in the office (he was informed by his secretary that there was a secret priority list of candidates).

The letter, which was addressed to Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, goes on to accuse top agency officials of caring more about their personal advancement than about doing their jobs well.

“Since I’ve been here I’ve been advised by my superiors that I had ‘to make my bosses look good.’ I’ve been admonished: ‘Dave, you are a visionary leader but what we need here are team players,’” the letter reads. “Recently, I was advised that if I wanted to be happy in government service, I had to ‘lower my expectations.’ The one thing no one in OASH [Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health] leadership has said to me in two years is ‘how can we help ORI better serve the research community?’ Not once.”

Wright went on to note that Koh himself once described the office as operating in an “intensely political environment.”

Here’s the full text of the letter:

HHS officials have yet to publicly announce Wright’s exit, ScienceInsider reported.

His resignation was first reported last week by Retraction Watch. He will remain a federal employee until at least March 27, the letter indicates.

After his time is up, he said, he plans to publish a more full account of his experiences with the department.

(H/T: Washington Post)


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