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Two Senior Civilian Officials Leave Capitol Police

The announcement last week that two top civilian officials were leaving the Capitol Police comes as the department is working its way through a major effort to improve the management of its finances.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider confirmed Friday that Chief Administrative Officer Tony Stamilio and Maryjean Buhler, director of the Office of Financial Management, have left the department.

The pair stepped down in separate meetings several days ago, Schneider said. But she also said classifying their departures as resignations wouldn’t be entirely appropriate.

“They just let [Chief Phillip Morse] know that they are going on to seek other opportunities,” Schneider added.

A spokesman for the House Administration Committee, which has oversight of the Capitol Police, also confirmed the departures.

“They came from the individuals and were accepted by the Chief,” spokesman Kyle Anderson wrote in an e-mail. “We’re monitoring the USCP progress in filling those positions. We have confidence in the Chief, and have been briefed on his interim staffing plan.”

Replacements for the pair have not yet been found, but the department is undertaking a recruiting process, Schneider said. In the interim, Richard Braddock will serve as acting CAO while Jeffrey Miller is acting director of the Office of Financial Management, Schneider confirmed.

In recent months, lawmakers have put increased pressure on the department to improve its financial management.

Some of the scrutiny can be traced back to 2005, when the GAO released two reports criticizing the department’s handling of overtime compensation. The GAO found that many members of the force, from the chief to the officers on the street, had exceeded the hours allowed.

The reports led then-House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio) to draft legislation that would have dramatically altered the structure of the Capitol Police, stripping the chief of many administrative duties.

Functions such as authorizing and setting terms, conditions and privileges of employment for police employees would have been handed over to the Capitol Police CAO, a position that, at the time, was held by Stamilio.

The CAO also would have become an appointee and report to the Capitol Police Board.

The legislation never came to fruition, but during fiscal 2008 appropriations hearings, Members once again pushed the department to improve its finances.

When Morse appeared before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch earlier this year, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said fixing that system must be a priority.

Morse insisted progress had been made, including providing training and education in addition to bringing in new personnel to clean things up.

“The foundation has been set,” Morse told the panel. “We must, and will, get our management challenges in order.”

When appropriators introduced the fiscal 2008 legislative branch appropriations bill, they announced they were pleased with the financial management progress Morse and Deputy Chief Dan Nichols had made.

But the lawmakers noted work remained to be done.

“The Committee is still deeply concerned over the Capitol Police’s lack of progress in developing fully functional financial management operations capable of obtaining audit opinions on a full set of financial statements,” the report accompanying the bill reads. “The Committee will not accept nor entertain any further delays or excuses for the poor management of financial operations.”

On Friday, a spokesman for Wasserman Schultz said the Congresswoman remains supportive of Morse’s leadership.

“The chief has made a series of changes to the financial structure at the Capitol Police, which the chairwoman believes will be beneficial in the long run,” spokesman Jonathan Beeton said.

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