Federal Agency Spending on Commemorative and Promotional Items Accurately Represented

WASHINGTON —Government accountability group, Cause of Action, released on Friday a report that outlines its own internal review following statements made by the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General.

 Analysis of the internal review found that the original report, “Coin for Coins,” remained an accurate and true picture of federal spending on promotional and commemorative items at the nine federal agencies that are highlighted. This analysis was reached based on two findings:

  1. Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General did, indeed, spend money on promotional items during the fiscal years under review.
  2. That this information, including information about cash awards to employees, was reported to Cause of Action by the FOIA office at DHS OIG to Cause of Action, during an interim FOIA production.

 Despite attempts to the contrary, the fact remains that the DHS OIG did indeed purchase promotional and commemorative items during the time period in question.

 “The DHS OIG accused Cause of Action of misrepresentation, claimed our report was misleading and erroneous, and stated our reporting was shoddy – in addition to attacking the credibility of Fox News and Government Executive,” said Dan Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action.

“Not only has DHS OIG failed to show any factual inaccuracies in Cause of Action’s work product, DHS OIG has been deceptive in its statements – failing to publicly disclose that DHS OIG spent tax dollars on trinkets, including paperweights, plaques, shadow boxes, mugs, Nike crush ball sleeves, zippered leather portfolios, rollerball pens, curved tumblers, and clocks. Furthermore, our review revealed DHS OIG gave commemorative items given to U.S. Attorneys, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, the U.S. Department of Justice, federal special agents, the FBI, a staffer at the U.S. House of Representatives, and to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. One wonders why the IG is providing tokens to federal investigators when top officials within the inspector general’s headquarters have been placed on administrative leave or transferred outside the agency as a result of a grand jury probe. Among those on leave are the inspector general’s top criminal investigator, Thomas M. Frost and a deputy, John Ryan. Instead of investigating the processes and procedures of the OIG FOIA office or disclosing DHS OIG’s commemorative item spending – or actually fully producing the documents owed to Cause of Action under FOIA, the taxpayer-funded IG decided to spend his time going after a taxpayer watchdog group.”

Highlights of the 95-page report include:

  • Pages 13-23: CoA’s April 4, 2012 FOIA request to DHS OIG on promotional items
  • Pages 25-27: Letter from Katherine Gallo at DHS OIG producing only an “interim response” to CoA’s request “seeking records pertaining to commemorative items.”
  • Pages 41-42: E-mails between Nikki Gramian and CoA staff where Nikki Gramian suggests producing cash awards to CoA.
  • Pages 45-47 & 77-86: DOJ OIG Commemorative Item Award Spending from 2009-2012
  • Pages 91-95: E-mail communications between DHS OIG and Cause of Action concerning the report.

 As always, Cause of Action remains committed to informing the public on issues of government accountability and transparency, which is why CoA conducted a thorough internal audit to ensure that no wrong had been done by the organization or its staff.

 About Cause of Action:

Cause of Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses investigative, legal, and communications tools to educate the public on how government accountability and transparency protects taxpayer interests and economic opportunity. For more information, visit


The report can be seen here.