About the Office of Investigations
The Office of Investigations investigates allegations of waste, fraud, abuse, gross mismanagement, employee and contractor misconduct, and criminal and civil violations of law that have an impact on the Smithsonian's programs and operations. The Office of Investigations refers matters to the U.S. Department of Justice whenever the OIG has reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of federal criminal law. The Office of Investigations also identifies fraud indicators and recommends measures to management to improve the Smithsonian's ability to protect itself against fraud and other wrongdoing.
Summaries of Selected Closed Complaints and Cases
Violation of Smithsonian Contracting Procedures
OIG received a complaint alleging contractor collusion in the award of a construction contract. OIG did not substantiate the allegation of collusion; however, during the course of the investigation OIG determined that an employee did not evaluate contracts according to procedures in Smithsonian Directive 314, Contracting, and in Procurement and Contracting Procedures Manual Part 3, Contracts for Goods and Services. The Smithsonian counseled the employee. In addition, Smithsonian management and stakeholders met to discuss the procedures and process that will be applied for future construction projects at this location.
Misuse of Government Property
OIG determined that an employee attempted to use the Smithsonian tax-exempt certificate to make an online purchase of a personal item to avoid paying sales tax. The employee also used the Smithsonian online store account to purchase this personal item. The employee’s use of the Smithsonian’s online store account and the tax-exempt certificate for personal gain was a violation of Smithsonian Directive 103, Smithsonian Institution Standards of Conduct, and Smithsonian Directive 931, Use of Computers, Telecommunications Devices, and Networks. The employee received a 10-day suspension without pay.
Violation of Time and Attendance Rules and Misuse of Smithsonian-Owned Vehicle
OIG determined that an employee falsely reported 11 hours as normal work hours when the hours should have been reported as annual leave. In addition, the employee violated Smithsonian Directive 421, Motor Vehicle Management, by driving a Smithsonian vehicle with a suspended driver’s license and for using the Smithsonian vehicle for unauthorized personal business and convenience. The Smithsonian terminated the employee.
Theft of Smithsonian-Owned Equipment and Supplies
OIG received evidence from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives of a potential theft by a Smithsonian employee. OIG determined that two Smithsonian employees stole Smithsonian equipment and supplies valued at $4,201 for personal gain. The United States Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the case. The employees resigned from their employment before the Smithsonian took any administrative actions.
Fraudulent Claim and Time and Attendance Violation
OIG determined that an employee knowingly submitted a fictitious doctor’s note to justify two days of sick leave. The United States Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute this case, and the Smithsonian did not take administrative action against the employee.
Violation of Time and Attendance Rules
OIG determined that an employee falsely reported two hours as normal work hours when those hours should have been recorded as annual leave. The Smithsonian counseled the employee and revoked the employee’s telework privileges.
Violation of Smithsonian Standards of Conduct by Senior Employee
OIG determined that a senior employee did not demonstrate due care in carrying out responsibilities when compiling and submitting a report to a financial institution — a violation of the code of conduct of the employee’s professional field. As a result, this senior employee violated Smithsonian Directive 103, Smithsonian Institution Standards of Conduct, which requires that employees be aware of and guided by the generally accepted professional standards and codes of ethics applicable in their respective professional fields. The senior employee resigned from Smithsonian employment.
Violations of Smithsonian Standards of Conduct by Caroline Baumann
OIG determined that the Director of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, Caroline Baumann, violated Smithsonian Directive 103, Smithsonian Institution Standards of Conduct, by (1) soliciting and accepting the free use of a venue, a gift valued at least $25,000, from a prohibited source, without paying the fair-market value of the gift and reporting it to a Smithsonian ethics counselor; (2) creating the appearance of using her Smithsonian position for personal gain by soliciting the use of the venue from a prohibited source; (3) creating the appearance of giving preferential treatment by providing free use of Smithsonian space to the venue host with an estimated value of $33,875; (4) using her Smithsonian position to solicit a dress and receiving a discount of at least $2,250; (5) creating the appearance of a quid pro quo deal by providing the dress designer with a free ticket to a Smithsonian event, a value of $1,700, soon after receiving a discount for the custom-designed dress; (6) failing to disclose the gifts of free use of venue and discounted price for dress on the annual confidential financial disclosure report, even though she was required to disclose gifts greater than $100 from any source; (7) using Smithsonian staff and a contractor to publicize a personal event that was not an official Smithsonian activity; and (8) failing to disclose her then-partner’s contract with the Smithsonian on the annual confidential financial disclosure report. Ms. Baumann resigned from the Smithsonian.
 OIG included Ms. Baumann’s name in this summary because the investigative report is publicly available.