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Newspaper: HHS leadership overruled staff in denying funding to bishops’ agency

November 03, 2011

In declining to renew a grant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services to aid victims of human trafficking, the leadership of the US Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] overruled its own staff, according to The Washington Post.

“Political appointees at HHS stepped in to award the new grants to the bishops’ competitors, overriding an independent review board and career staffers who had recommended that the bishops be funded again, according to federal officials and internal HHS documents,” the Post reported, adding:

The decision not to fund the bishops this time has caused controversy inside HHS. A number of career officials refused to sign documents connected to the grant, feeling that the process was unfair and politicized, individuals familiar with the matter said. Their concerns have been reported to the HHS inspector general’s office … The applications of [two grant winners] were scored significantly below the Catholic bishops by the review panel, the individuals familiar with the matter said …

HHS political appointees this spring became involved in reshaping the request for proposals, adding a “strong preference” for applicants offering referrals for family planning and the “full range” of “gynecological and obstetric care.’’ That would include abortions and birth control …

Some HHS staffers objected to the involvement of the secretary’s office, saying the goal was to exclude the Catholic bishops, individuals familiar with the matter said.

HHS political appointees this spring became involved in reshaping the request for proposals, adding a “strong preference” for applicants offering referrals for family planning and the “full range” of “gynecological and obstetric care.’’ That would include abortions and birth control …

Some HHS staffers objected to the involvement of the secretary’s office, saying the goal was to exclude the Catholic bishops, individuals familiar with the matter said.

“It was so clearly and blatantly trying to come up with a certain outcome,’’ said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak to the media. “That’s very distasteful to people.’’

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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Nov. 03, 2011 3:02 PM ET USA

    We do not need government crippling the life of charity in the Church. If it is worth doing, it is worth funding it ourselves.

  • Posted by: DrJazz - Nov. 03, 2011 7:59 AM ET USA

    It's more than "distasteful." By their own standards, "blatantly trying to come up with a certain outcome" is called discrimination.