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Thanks to the unexpected exit of Office of Contracting and Procurement head James Staton last month, Muriel Bowser now gets to pick her own contracting boss. While that’s a nice deal for the mayor, it’s not so nice for District taxpayers, who are now on the hook for a buyout package worth more than $40,000, according to documents obtained by LL through the Freedom of Information Act.
Staton, picked by Vince Gray for the job in 2011, was serving out a five year term set to end in July 2016. The staggered term should have given Staton some independence from the mayor to his job watchdogging city expenses. It also makes him different from the Gray appointees whose exit from the new administration cost the District nearly $2 million, since Staton could only be fired for cause.
He could also, however, be persuaded to leave with a sweet buyout. Bowser reportedly wanted Staton gone. She certainly didn’t mind using the city treasury to do it. In an agreement signed Jan. 15 between Staton and Bowser general counsel Betsy Cavendish, Staton agrees to resign with a year-and-a-half left on his term in exchange for a lump sum payment equivalent to 12 weeks of his salary.
Judging by Staton’s annual 2014 salary—$173,987.60—that means the District paid him $40,150.98 to leave early, plus bonuses for whatever unused leave he had saved up. The Bowser administration declined to provide an exact figure for Staton’s buyout.
Staton couldn’t be reached for comment, and declined to comment on his impending exit when he was still in office. Bowser spokesman Michael Czin declined to comment.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery