More Than a Thousand Whistleblower Cases Dumped
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
Wednesday 23 February 2005
Special Counsel dismisses hundreds of disclosures and complaints in past
Washington, DC - The U.S. Special Counsel has dismissed more than 1,000
whistleblower cases in the past year, according to a letter from the
Bush-appointed Special Counsel released today by Public Employees for
Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The Special Counsel appears to have
taken action in very few, if any, of these cases and has yet to represent a
single whistleblower in an employment case.
In a letter dated February 14, 2005 and addressed to U.S. Representative
Henry Waxman (D-CA), Special Counsel Scott Bloch defends his stormy 13
months in office by pointing to a sharp drop in backlogged whistleblower
"Everyone agrees that backlogs and delays are bad but they are not as
bad as simply dumping the cases altogether," stated PEER Executive Director
Jeff Ruch, noting that this letter is the first account that Bloch has
released of his tenure and that his office's report for FY 2004, which ended
in October, is overdue. "If the Office of Special Counsel under Scott Bloch
is not helping whistleblowers then there is no reason for the office to
continue to exist."
According to the figures released by Bloch, in the past year the Office
of Special Counsel:
* Dismissed or otherwise disposed of 600 whistleblower disclosures
where civil servants have reported waste, fraud, threats to public safety
and violations of law. Bloch has yet to announce a single case where he has
ordered an investigation into the employee's charges. Bloch says that 100
disclosures are still pending; and
* Made 470 claims of retaliation disappear. In not one of these cases
did Bloch's office affirmatively represent a whistleblower to obtain relief
before the civil service court system, called the Merit Systems Protection
Board. Bloch says that another 30 retaliation cases remain in the backlog.
In order to speed dismissals, Bloch instituted a rule forbidding his
staff from contacting a whistleblower if their disclosure was deemed
incomplete or ambiguous. Instead, OSC would simply dismiss the matter. As a
result, hundreds of whistleblowers never had a chance to justify why their
cases had merit.
"According to Scott Bloch there is no waste, fraud or abuse in the
federal government that deserves investigation," stated Ruch, noting that
there may be even more dismissals than Bloch reported because the numbers
cited above are limited to what was defined as a backlog and do not include
Rep. Waxman and Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), the ranking minority party
members of the House Government Reform Committee and its Civil Service
Subcommittee, respectively, had originally written to ask for an
investigation by the Government Accountability Office into Bloch's forced
removal of OSC staff, hiring of cronies and failure to answer Freedom of
Information Act requests.
Read <http://www.peer.org/docs/osc/2005_23_2_blochltr.pdf> the letter
from Scott Bloch to Rep. Henry Waxman.
See the <http://www.peer.org/docs/osc/2005_23_2_moc_ltr.pdf> original
letter from Rep. Waxman and Rep. Davis.
Look at <http://www.osc.gov/documents/reports/ar-2003.pdf> the last
full status report on OSC's backlog.
Find <http://www.peer.org/watch/federal_info.php?row_id=23> out more
about Scott Bloch's tenure at OSC.