Prepared Statement for the Record of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
On the Nomination of Carolyn Radelet to be Director of the Peace Corps
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Mr. President, I will vote to confirm the President’s nominee for Director of the Peace Corps. However, I want explain why I objected to any unanimous consent request relating to this nomination in March and why I have withdrawn my objection. I objected because I was informed by the Peace Corps Inspector General that she was having difficulty accessing records from the agency. The nominee is the acting director of the agency. The records relate to sexual assaults reported by Peace Corps volunteers.
The Inspector General is entitled to access these records under the Inspector General Act and the Kate Puzey Act. Both acts reinforce the principle that agency operations should be monitored by an independent and objective Inspector General. The Kate Puzey Act requires the agency to better respond to volunteers who report sexual assault and implement certain protections for victims of sexual assault. To ensure that these protections are actually implemented, it also requires the Inspector General to conduct “a case review of a statistically significant number of cases” of sexual assaults reported by volunteers.
However, the agency has gone out of its way to interpret the Kate Puzey Act as conflicting with the Inspector General Act. In fact, the agency repeatedly stated that certain provisions of the Kate Puzey Act override the Inspector General Act. That was never the intent of Congress. But, the Peace Corps withheld most of the information that the Inspector General requested from the agency.
Fortunately, the Peace Corps and the Inspector General recently agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This MOU was agreed to only after I placed a hold on the Acting Director’s nomination, and only after I sent three letters to the agency about the dispute, along with several other members. Under the MOU, the Peace Corps has agreed to provide the Inspector General with more information than before. For the time being, the Inspector General believes that the MOU will allow her to carry out her oversight duties.
However, the Inspector General has made it clear to me that the MOU has many shortcomings. Most importantly, the Peace Corps still refuses to acknowledge the Inspector General’s legal right to access the records in question. In addition, the MOU can be terminated by either party at any time. So, the Inspector General believes that she would be back at square one if the parties ever disagree in the future on the amount of information she needs to independently evaluate how the agency handled a specific case of sexual assault.
Still, the MOU represents progress. So, I am voting in favor of this nomination. The law says that the Inspector General is entitled to full and timely access to the records in question. So, I will monitor this situation closely. And I will count on the nominee to guide the agency into full compliance with the law. Thank you.