The Architect of the Capitol’s (AOC’s) director of Diversity, Inclusion and Dispute Resolution, Elizabeth Buday, violated government ethics and policies when seeking “training for the entire AOC workforce,” an inspector general (IG) report released Tuesday found.
The AOC employs a largely blue-collar and minority workforce of janitors, construction workers, and engineers that maintain the U.S. Capitol complex. “Employees in various trades such as electricians, plumbers, masons and carpenters maintain the facilities and infrastructure in optimal condition. Gardeners and grounds keepers create colorful displays and care for hundreds of acres of lawns and plantings,” its website says.
The investigation began after a whistleblower said that Buday had broken rules and “abused her authority by placing subordinates in uncomfortable positions and described one specific contract acquired by the AOC pertaining to Agency wide training,” the IG report said.
The employee insisted on being a “confidential source” because he or she believed the director of inclusion would “seek retribution if she found out a complaint was filed with the OIG [Office of Inspector General].”
The report found that Buday violated rules by trying to negotiate with contractors directly even though she was not a trained contract officer, including attempting to award a “sole source” contract rather than using competition. “The contract was not eligible for a sole source award and would have to be offered to multiple vendors prior to selection,” the report said.
Buday told investigators she didn’t realize she was violating the rules, and she found it necessary to hire a specific firm because “not all companies or trainers would be able to relate to the blue collar employees of the AOC,” the report said.
“She was in violation of the AOC’s Contracting Manual when she attempted to coordinate a sole source contract with the vendor,” the report said. The IG report said Buday retired from the AOC on July 31 and the case was closed.
Buday is a white woman who previously worked in diversity roles at the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs. A photo in an AOC report shows her lecturing a mostly-minority audience.
A spokesperson for the AOC did not immediately return a request for comment, including for information about the nature of the training that the AOC workforce must take.
The U.S. Congress’ traditionally nonpartisan administrative arms have become increasingly politicized. The House of Representatives also now has its own Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
The Capitol Police are currently looking to hire a criminal prosecutor that would report to the police, even though prosecutors typically work for the executive branch and police are subordinate to prosecutors. The prosecutor would be in charge of prosecuting alleged January 6 rioters and handling allegations of misconduct by members of Congress.
The Architect of the Capitol, J. Brett Blanton, is one of three members of the Capitol Police Board.