Former Peace Corps Official Guilty of Violating Conflict of Interest Law

The Peace Corps has just published  the following News Release.  It is important to note that a member of the Peace Corps staff alerted tne Office of General Counsel which led to this conviction. The News Release does not name the NGO.  We will try and find out.

Later: POLITICO is reporting that the NGO was Seed Global Health.  Here is the link: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/05/buckingham-charity-lobbying-charge-391975

John Coyne, Peace Corps World Wide has reported on the relationship: Here is  one link: http://peacecorpsworldwide.org/the-peace-corps-in-bed-with-seed-global-health-foundation/

Press Release

The Peace Corps announced that its investigation and referral of a criminal case to the Department of Justice led to the successful prosecution of a former official charged with violating conflict of interest law.
Former Peace Corps employee Warren “Buck” Buckingham admitted to violating a criminal conflict of interest law and agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
Buckingham, while working as a representative of a non-profit organization, admitted to influencing decisions on behalf of the organization in matters in which he was personally and substantially involved during his employment with the Peace Corps, a U.S. government agency.
The Peace Corps Office of Inspector General investigated the case in coordination with the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
“This is an example of collaboration at every level, and I deeply appreciate the hard work and vigilance of the Office of Inspector General,” said Acting Peace Corps Director Sheila Crowley.
Buckingham was the director of the Peace Corps Office of Global Health and HIV from 2010 to 2012. During his employment with the Peace Corps, Buckingham was involved in evaluating, approving, and monitoring a non-competitively awarded cooperative agreement between the Peace Corps and the non-profit organization. He was later employed by the organization and acted as the principal negotiator to obtain a follow-on agreement to the cooperative agreement between the Peace Corps and the organization.
Inspector General Kathy A. Buller said of the matter, “This investigation began because a member of the Peace Corps contracting staff saw something wrong and reported it to the Office of General Counsel. The Office of General Counsel then referred it to the Office of Inspector General. Their action led to our office investigating Buckingham’s behavior and allowed us to seek accountability.”

Acting Peace Corps Director Crowley commended the work of Inspector General Agents Joe Bodensteiner and Jennifer Pallotta, other Peace Corps staff, and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marston.

3 Comments

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  • In an interview on NPR, Victoria Kerry said:

    “The Peace Corps doesn’t have the technical capacity to do clinical medicine and nursing,” Kerry says. “But they do well at deploying people in a sensitive, integrated way.”

    https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2012/09/18/161381770/a-peace-corps-for-doctors-built-by-a-senators-daughter

    I engaged in a long and ultimaely futile email correspondence with the NPR reporter Michaeleen Doucleff urging her to correct the record. Peace Corps nurses have been part of Peace Corps since 1962, In 2007, Peace Corps directed that no Peace Corps staff, Volunteers and Trainees could engage in any clinical activity because of the danger of contracting HIV/AID because the intrastructure could not always support adequate sterilization.

  • Joanne, I, and probably a lot of people, would be interested in knowing if this employee was, himself, a former volunteer. Somehow, it would seem inconsistent to me. Like the Marines, and “Semper Fidelis”, one thing a Marine just never does is embarrass the Corps. I think of former PCVs the same way.

    Yes, to your comment about the time-honored place of nurses in the Peace Corps. Back in early -63 my group (Ghana-3 Geology) trained simultaneously with Tunisia -1 (or was it -2), composed of about a dozen nurses. Wonderful volunteers, I thought. I regretted they weren’t coming with us to Ghana. Lately I have heard something of this ban on actual clinical work, and if true, it’s regrettable. What better thing for a nurse-PCV to work on, than upgrading clinical practices, to prevent transmission of infectious diseases. John Turnbull New Mexico

  • John,

    I could not find any information that suggests Buckingham was a RPCV. I could not find him on Linkedin, which is my go-to-place for career information. Here is a link to an interview in which Buckingham discusses his long history as a HIV/AIDS activist and how that has impacted his role at Peace Corps.
    http://sciencespeaksblog.org/2011/06/10/peace-corps-buck-buckingham-aids-at-30/

    Let me see if I can explain how absolutely necessary the ban on clinical work for Trainees, Volunteers, and staff is.
    It may be this is another example of how the experience of women Volunteers, either as nurses, clinical staff or just
    health educators, which is what I was, differs from men Volunteers. The problem in the developing world was not lack of education or training. It was a lack of adequate equipment and surgical instruments, especially needles and most importantly, an adequate energy source to ensure adequate sterizilation.

    This was a major problem for many Volunteers from the very beginning. I was not trained to perform any medical procedures, like vacinations. However, it was my job to promote vacinations and organize vaccination stations. The problem was out in the country (campo) there simply was not an energy source sufficient to sterizlize the needles. The clinic staff did have a small burner that could keep water relatively hot, but it was not adequate for sterilization. I was not in a position to do anything. I spoke at length with my program coordinator, who was not medically trained. She just told me to tell them to boil the needles. Sure. Many, many, nurses, I knew, were conflicted about the ethics of their assignments. Many choose not to do clinic service, but instead just train and educate. Whe the blood borne disease was HIV/AID, risk to all Peace Corps staff was too great. Plus, as importantly, they could not risk being in a situation where they could be infecting patients. The role of dirty needles in the HIV/AID spread has never been really examined.

    I had two personal experiences with this problem. I was hospitalized in the major hospital, PC approved, for a minor surgical procedure. In the middle of the night, the Peace Corps nurse came in and begged me to refuse to have it done.
    She said the surgeons were technically excellent, but the post-surgerical infection rate was 80%. She said she feared for my life. I was lucky and did not have to undergo the surgery.

    In the Spring of 1965, Colombia had a small pox epidemic. We all had to be immunized. I traveled in country and at every entrance to a city, a bus station, or an airport, everyone had to display a “fresh” vaccination. If one could not, then one was vaccinated at the outdoor station. I was vaccinated four or five times. I also supported vaccination campaigns in my site.

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