According to an internal personnel announcement forwarded to us, on December 4, Partin will begin a 90-day stint at the Office of the Vice President for Research at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, which trains health professionals to support the U.S. military.
Partin declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), of which the Office of Research Integrity is a part, told us the agency cannot comment on personnel issues.
Linda Schutjer, a former colleague of Partin’s at Colorado State University, told us Partin was asked to leave:
They’ve basically told her she’s not going back. They’ve told her to take all her stuff out of her office, all of her personal things.
However, Schutjer told us Partin has hired a lawyer and plans to “fight:”
She’s fighting tooth and nail. Because it’s the right thing to do…to stay.
The announcement of Partin’s departure was sent to staff on Friday by Don Wright, acting assistant secretary for health at the HHS (also appointed acting secretary of the entire agency in September, 2017). Wright served as the acting director of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) twice, including filling in before Partin took over in December 2015.
The last two years haven’t been easy for Partin. In August 2016, Science reported Partin was facing a “staff revolt:”
[Partin] has launched a top-to-bottom review of the office, which has been criticized for moving too slowly and meting out sanctions that lack teeth…But in one of several letters of protest to Partin’s superiors at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), many of ORI’s investigative staff recently expressed “profound concern about the tone and direction” she has taken. They contend that Partin does not fully understand ORI’s regulatory constraints and is unjustifiably seeking to replace ORI’s two division directors, whose departure, they write, would be a “disaster.” John Dahlberg, who before retiring last year was ORI’s deputy director, says that his former office “seems to be falling apart.”
Earlier this month, the director of the Division of Investigative Oversight at the ORI, Susan Garfinkel, left the agency.
Earlier this year, Partin defended the agency’s relative lack of findings of misconduct in 2016 — only seven, compared to 14 in 2015 and 11 the year before. So far, the agency has issued five findings in 2017.
Before taking the helm at ORI, Partin was the director of the Research Integrity & Compliance Review Office at Colorado State University (CSU). The position had been vacant for more than a year and a half, after David Wright resigned; in his resignation letter, Wright lambasted the “remarkably dysfunctional” bureaucracy at the agency.
While Partin is at the USUHS, Wanda Jones — the former director of the Office on Women’s Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — will be ORI’s interim director.
Schutjer said Partin has “amazing integrity” and has been working hard at the position:
She knew it would be difficult, but she’s had nothing but roadblocks…It’s hard to see a nice person be treated so poorly.
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