Earl E. Devaney, who started his profession as a Secret Service agent guarding President Richard M. Nixon and rose to develop into one of the American authorities’s most aggressive and feared inside watchdogs, died on April 15 in Boca Raton, Fla. He was 74.
His son Michael stated the demise, at a hospital, was brought on by problems of a coronary heart assault.
Friends and foes alike known as Mr. Devaney the Big Man, and not solely as a result of he lengthy retained the imposing heft he as soon as yielded as a school soccer participant.
An administrative entrepreneur, he helped construct the financial-fraud arm of the Secret Service, gave actual tooth to the enforcement capabilities of the Environmental Protection Agency, took down a corrupt company inside the Interior Department as its inspector normal, and managed to maintain the huge 2009 financial stimulus effort nearly fraud free.
Mr. Devaney had a aptitude for flashy circumstances and headline-grabbing congressional testimony, not, by his account, for their very own sake or to spice up his profession, however for his or her deterrent impact.
“You can have an inspector general who lurks in the shadows,” (*74*) Marcus, a fellow at Stanford University who labored with Mr. Devaney at the E.P.A., stated in an interview. “He did not lurk in the shadows.”
In his workplace at the Interior Department he saved an alligator head with a digicam hidden inside, which he had used to movie a division official have interaction in a bribery deal whereas on a fishing journey within the Louisiana bayou.
“When an assistant secretary comes in and asks about it, I tell that story and they get a little unnerved,” he told The New York Times in 2009.
When he arrived at the Interior Department in 1999, many individuals within the management had by no means met his predecessors, nor did they should — the standard inspector normal quietly issued studies and would possibly testify earlier than Congress as soon as in his or her profession, however not often did somebody in that function make an lively effort to squash wrongdoing or to carry transparency to authorities operations, two issues Mr. Devaney relished doing.
“Ed was a standout because he recognized the full breadth of the responsibilities of an inspector general,” Danielle Brian, government director of the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, stated in an interview.
His largest case emerged throughout the George W. Bush administration, in 2008, when he launched a sequence of studies exhibiting widespread misconduct at the Minerals Management Service, a department of the Interior Department that collected about $10 billion in royalties on mining on federal property.
The alternatives for corruption had been immense, and Mr. Devaney and his group confirmed that authorities officers within the service had manipulated contracts and obtained sports activities tickets and different items from business officers whereas partaking in drug use and intercourse with oil-company staff in what he termed “a culture of ethical failure.”
Though the division tried to reform the service, the failures recognized by Mr. Devaney had been too nice, and it closed in 2011.
In one other investigation, he fingered J. Steven Griles, the deputy secretary of the inside, for corrupt practices associated to Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist; Mr. Griles denied the accusations however was later convicted of lying to Congress about his ties to Mr. Abramoff and sentenced to jail.
Mr. Devaney’s most high-profile publish was his final. Though he had promised his spouse, Judy, that he would retire so they may transfer to Florida, Vice President Joseph R. Biden in 2009 requested him to behave as the inner watchdog for President Barack Obama’s gargantuan financial restoration effort.
“I practiced all weekend saying no” to Mr. Biden, he told The Washington Post in 2011. “Something like ‘I’m really honored’ or ‘Let me give you some names you could consider instead of me.’”
But then Mr. Biden took him into the Oval Office, the place President Obama did the asking.
“I hadn’t practiced saying no to a president,” he stated.
Though he stayed within the job just a few years, he was as soon as once more transformative. As the pinnacle of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board — he most well-liked its acronym, the R.A.T. Board — he oversaw the implementation of Recovery.gov, the place members of the general public may observe the progress (or lack thereof) of authorities packages of their space, and he inspired folks inside and outdoors the federal government to report abuse the place they noticed it.
“I want to make it possible for Mr. and Mrs. Smith in Ohio to see exactly how the money is spent,” he advised The Times.
His efforts paid off: There had been nearly no proof of fraud when he retired on Dec. 31, 2011, to a lot acclaim from members of each political events.
Earl Edward Devaney was born on June 8, 1947, to John and Claire Devaney in Reading, Mass., a northern suburb of Boston. His father owned a sequence of small companies. His mom was a mannequin and actress.
He attended Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., the place he studied authorities, performed on the soccer group as a lineman and graduated in 1970. Early on, he felt the draw of a profession in felony justice and labored summers as a police officer on Cape Cod.
Along along with his son, he’s survived by his spouse; one other son, Matthew; and 5 grandchildren.
From faculty Mr. Devaney went immediately into the Secret Service, the place he labored on the presidential particulars for each Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. It could possibly be perilous work: At one level he got here beneath fireplace from a deranged girl who thought he was President Ford.
He later transferred to the company’s newly created white-collar crime division, the place he distinguished himself as a very efficient cop working the beat inside advanced operations just like the banking system.
Mr. Devaney left the Secret Service in 1991 to work at the E.P.A., the place he strengthened the company’s traditionally weak enforcement efforts.
And whereas he had lengthy since traded his Secret Service agent’s gun for a desktop laptop, he may nonetheless transfer decisively when essential.
Once in San Francisco, he was strolling with three E.P.A. colleagues, together with Ms. Marcus, up a hill after dinner. Mr. Devaney was strolling behind her.
“I felt a brush of wind against my neck, but didn’t think much about it,” she recalled. “Then I turned around and saw that someone had tried to grab something out of my purse — and that just as quickly, Ed had grabbed the man and pushed him against a wall.”
“He had this mix of grace of strength that is remarkable,” she stated.