Department of Education report finds no 'ethical violations' in Williams contract

WASHINGTON: The inspector general for the Department of Education has found "no violations of pertinent contract law" and "no evidence of any ethical violations" in the contract between Ketchum and commentator Armstrong Williams, according to a report rel

WASHINGTON: The inspector general for the Department of Education has found "no violations of pertinent contract law" and "no evidence of any ethical violations" in the contract between Ketchum and commentator Armstrong Williams, according to a report rel

The report is not without criticism, however.

"We did find that department officials made some poor management decisions and exercised poor judgment and oversight," the report stated. "As a result, the department paid for work that most likely did not reach its intended audience and paid for deliverables that were never received."

In a statement reacting to the ruling, education secretary Margaret Spellings said contracting with Williams to promote the No Child Left Behind bill showed "serious lapses in judgment."

Spellings put the responsibility for the controversy on her predecessor, Rod Paige, although she did not mention him by name.

"My personal observation is the Office of the Secretary carries weight," she said in a statement. "When the secretary, his/her chief of staff, and other senior officers urge, hint, suggest, or recommend anything, it can start a chain reaction within the building to carry out the request, such as what occurred beginning in March 2003," referring to when the contract was signed. "As a result, it is the secretary who must be careful about and is ultimately responsible for the signals that his/her office sends."

In January, USA Today reported that Ketchum, through its contract with DOE, paid Williams $240,000 to promote No Child Left Behind.

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