Kate Puzey Act, Peace Corps and the Office of the Inspector General: a Guide to Reports

First Response Action is the advocacy group created by RPCV Casey Frazee and fellow RPCV women who had been sexually assaulted during their service. These are the brave women whose work resulted in the passage of the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011. To read more about the organization, here is the link: http://firstresponseaction.blogspot.com The legislation was designed to provide protocols and procedures to protect serving Volunteers and to ensure that if sexual assault unfortunately occurred, that the Volunteer would receive immediate care, based on best practices. The current  concern is  about how well the Peace Corps agency has fully implemented all the mandates of that law.

The Office of the Inspector General for the Peace Corps evaluated  the implementation of the law and issued its current report, signed by all parties on November 13, 2013. The process of preparing such a report and giving the agency time to review and respond creates a gap between the time the data is collected and the final report issued. For example, the report speaks of items scheduled to be in place by September 1, 2013. But, the report, as far as I could tell, does not say if that occurred.  This report of the Office of the Inspector General can be accessed via the First Response Action blog, cited above or directly: http://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/policies/PCIG_Final_Program_Evaluation_Volunteer_Sexual_Assault_Policy.pdf

The Office of the Inspector General, or OIG is currently preparing a new report that will go to Congress in 2016.  The controversy as reported by the Washington Times in the article posted here by John Coyne, is evidently about the difficulty the Inspector General, Kathy Buller is having  securing complete cooperation from the Peace Corps. Kathy Buller, Inspector General of the Peace Corps, reported this problem to Congress in January of this year.  The Washington Times Article further reported that on April 23, 2014,

“Seven members of Congress, including Mr. Grassley and Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, have sent a letter asking Peace Corps acting director Carolyn Hessler-Radelet to demand that the agency‘s general counsel provide the information Mrs. Buller has requested.”

It is hoped that a compromise can be achieved and the Inspector General can proceed with an accurate and comprehensive evaluation.

What is not in dispute is the observation of John Coyne that the story of Kate Puzey is nowhere to be found in the Peace Corps Washington offices nor does it figure in any of the current promotional materials produced by the Public Information Office. Peace Corps applications have fallen to new lows. The Director has pledged to triple the number of applications to the Peace Corps by 2015. This ambitious campaign evidently is based on a rosy picture where earnest white girls lead eager brown and black girls to to a new world of equality and education., without encountering resistance or danger. Kate Puzey’s courage in trying to stop the sexual exploitation of’ her students and her subsequent murder does not fit this scenario.

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