Former HHS Inspector General Janet Rehnquist defended her administration and painted a sunny picture of her tenure in response to a General Accounting Office report that criticized her performance. "The GAO report consists largely of opinions, speculation, hearsay and pre-determined conclusions not supported by the weight of the evidence," Rehnquist said. Her comments were included in the final report, which was requested by Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and released yesterday. Rehnquist resigned June 1 after a stormy 19-month tenure characterized by allegations of political cronyism, favoritism, poor judgment and questionable leadership. The GAO report questioned Rehnquist's judgment and ethics in several instances, including the delay of a Florida pension audit and the settlement of a Pennsylvania fraud case. Rehnquist defended her actions, asserting in the case of the Florida audit that "engaging in conjecture about 'conceivable outcomes' is hardly the purview of a typical GAO report."
Both Grassley and Baucus released written statements in response to the report. Grassley said, "With so much money and such critical programs at stake, it's very important to both beneficiaries and taxpayers that the integrity and independence of the inspector general's office be restored." Baucus said, "The GAO's report confirms that Ms. Rehnquist was not the right person for this crucial job." -- by Mark Taylor