Last week, we reported that David Wright had resigned as director of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI). At the time, we noted we were short on details, but Science has obtained Wright’s resignation letter, which sheds a great deal of light on the move.
In his letter, according to Science, Wright wrote that:
…working with ORI’s “remarkable scientist-investigators” was “the best job I’ve ever had.” But that was only 35% of his job; the rest of the time he spent “navigating the remarkably dysfunctional HHS bureaucracy” to run ORI. Tasks that took a couple of days as a university administrator required weeks or months, he says. He writes that ORI’s budget was micromanaged by more senior officials, and that Koh’s office had a “seriously flawed” culture, calling it “secretive, autocratic and unaccountable.” For example, he told Wanda Jones, Koh’s deputy, that he urgently needed to appoint a director for ORI’s division of education. Jones told him the position was somewhere on a secret priority list of appointments. The position has not been filled 16 months later, David Wright notes.
[The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health] itself suffers from the tendency of bureaucracies to “focus … on perpetuating themselves,” David Wright writes. Officials spent “exorbitant amounts of time” in meetings and generating data and reports to make their divisions look productive, he writes. He asks whether OASH is the proper home for a regulatory office such as ORI, noting that Koh himself has described his office as an “intensely political environment.”
Read the whole letter at Science.