Opinion: Same old scandal at Smithsonian

"More than a year has passed since Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Post reporters James V. Grimaldi and Jacqueline Trescott began their investigations of the serious financial and administrative improprieties at the Smithsonian Institution, the country's largest and most prestigious museum complex.

The Post reporters thoroughly documented then-Secretary Lawrence Small's bloated salary, perks and misuse of funds; his deputy's compensation from outside corporate sources; the Board of Regents' failure to oversee the institution and hold it accountable; the culture of secrecy permeating the organization; and the excessive travel and other expenses of Richard West, then executive director of the National Museum of the American Indian.

A three-person independent review committee, headed by Charles A. Bowsher, a former U.S. comptroller general, was asked to assess the organization's governance problems. The committee excoriated Small's "imperial and insular" management style; the lack of financial controls and audit procedures; and the Board of Regents' inept oversight. It recommended some major changes in the institution's governance.

But neither Congress nor the Board of Regents has moved decisively to implement the necessary changes. Why has it taken so long?"

Get the Story:
Pablo Eisenberg: Same Old Smithsonian (The Washington Post 1/14)

Relevant Links:
National Museum of the American Indian - http://www.nmai.si.edu

Related Stories:
Rick West: 'Gossip' journalism in ICT and WaPo (1/11)
Opinion: Rick West's abuse of power at NMAI (1/11)
Editorial: Rick West lost sight of basic mission (1/7)
Editorial: Rick West's extravagant lifestyle (1/4)
Ex-NMAI director West spent over $250K on travel (12/28)