WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has withdrawn her nomination for the director of the Office of Unified Communications (OUC).
Editor's Note: The video above was published on Sept. 9, 2022.
The agency has faced criticism over 911 delays that have led to people dying while waiting for help to arrive.
Bowser reappointed OUC Director Karima Holmes in March. She had previously served as director of the agency from 2015 to 2021, during which OUC came under fire for the same accusations of delays and mismanagement.
A scathing audit of OUC, released in September, showed the agency had made minimal progress in resolving several issues.
“Responding to emergency calls is maybe the most critical function of a local government like ours and not doing the very best we can is just not acceptable,” said District of Columbia Auditor Kathleen Patterson.
After the audit was released, reporters asked why Bowser continued to keep Holmes in her role, a decision that the mayor defended saying Holmes brought a level of experience "unparalleled" in her experience being in the D.C. government.
Less than three months later, Bowser seems to have changed her tune.
"It is with regret that we are withdrawing [Holmes] nomination and will begin a nationwide search for a new director," a statement from the office of Mayor Bowser read Monday.
While announcing the withdrawal of her nomination, the statement praised Holmes, saying she was the right leader at the right time for OUC.
"[Holmes] improved morale in a high-stress agency that had previously suffered from chronic under-staffing," Bowser said. "Under Director Holmes’ leadership, OUC consistently offered compassion and expertise when handling more than one million 911 calls each year – one of the highest call rates in the nation."
Holmes will continue to lead OUC for the next 60 days.
Read Mayor Bowser's full statement below:
“We are incredibly grateful for Director Karima Holmes’ leadership at the Office of Unified Communications. Director Holmes is a nationally recognized 911 expert and I was proud to have her return to OUC in March. During her service to the District, she filled critical agency staffing positions and oversaw significant technology upgrades that improved residents’ customer experience. Director Holmes was the right leader at the right time for OUC. She improved morale in a high-stress agency that had previously suffered from chronic under-staffing. Under Director Holmes’ leadership, OUC consistently offered compassion and expertise when handling more than one million 911 calls each year – one of the highest call rates in the nation. It is with regret that we are withdrawing her nomination and will begin a nationwide search for a new director. As we conduct that search, Director Holmes will continue to lead OUC in an interim capacity for the next 60 days.”
54-year-old Joyce Robertson went into cardiac arrest and later died. WUSA9 talked to her mother Patricia Robertson