Government leaders investigate management of federal charity drive

As federal agencies across the nation kick off their annual charity drives, lawmakers and federal officials are taking measures to ensure that the money raised in the Washington region is properly distributed by the local United Way organization.

The Combined Federal Campaign, which kicked off Sept. 1 and runs through Dec. 15, is the only authorized solicitation for charities in the federal workplace. The campaign was launched 31 years ago to pool informal solicitations into one large-scale charity drive.

Following allegations of spending and management problems at the National Capital Area United Way, Office of Personnel Director Kay Coles James asked her agency's inspector general to investigate the nonprofit organization's administration of funds raised through the National Capital Area CFC. United Way has held the contract to run the federal campaign in the Washington area for 20 years. Last year, the National Capital Area CFC raised more than $50 million.

"It is our responsibility as administrators of the Combined Federal Campaign to ensure that the management of CFC funds, at all levels, meets with the high standards expected by those generous federal employees who participate annually in CFC campaigns," James wrote in a September memo to CFC heads. "Nothing less than total accountability and transparency is needed to maintain the trust of donors and the stability of the program."

The results of the investigation are pending, according to an OPM spokesman.

Meanwhile, two lawmakers, Del. Eleanor Homes Norton, D-D.C., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, have expressed concern about how the local United Way's problems could affect the CFC campaign in the Washington area.

"If the community loses faith in the CFC, the real losers will be family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who depend on the generosity and goodwill of CFC donors," Grassley wrote in a September letter to James and CFC Director Mara Patermaster. Grassley asked James and Patermaster to develop a plan to ensure the CFC would continue in the event that the local United Way was unable to run the fall campaign.

Norton is considering introducing legislation that would require OPM to terminate a partnership if a CFC administrator or charity is involved in financial or other improprieties.

"I believe a strong signal needs to be sent now to contributors and recipients alike that it is still safe to give because the Congress itself is now involved," Norton said. "The high stakes for charitable organizations and the residents they serve in the city and in the region could not be higher."

OPM's own CFC drive kicks off Wednesday.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.