Washington, DC — U.S. Special Counsel Scott Bloch disregarded the main recommendations coming out of an expensive consultant’s report he commissioned, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Contrary to his consultant’s advice, Bloch’s office dismissed hundreds of meritorious whistleblower cases, abolished a highly successful complaint resolution unit and wasted resources litigating minor cases.
In July 2004, the Office of Special Counsel retained Military Professional Resources, Inc., a consulting firm, at a cost of $140,000 to perform an assessment of its operations. The resultant report made a number of recommendations, but Bloch took the opposite course or ignored them altogether:
- MPRI called the Alternate Disputes Resolution Unit “an invaluable tool” for OSC and stated that the Unit’s mediation practice is “a growth industry which should be expanded.” This past March, Bloch forced the staff of the Alternate Disputes Resolution Unit to resign for refusing an involuntary relocation. At present, OSC has no trained mediators;
- MPRI recommended that OSC change its practices so that more whistleblower disclosures are investigated. Instead, Bloch dismissed 600 pending whistleblower disclosures without referring even one for investigation. Bloch even instituted a rule forbidding OSC staff from contacting whistleblowers if additional information or clarification was needed; and
- MPRI criticized Hatch Act enforcement, saying OSC was “pursuing even the grayest case to the limit” and should instead “simply issue warning letters” rather than prosecute minor cases. This fall, Bloch stepped up Hatch Act prosecutions of questionable cases, with OSC going after state employees who were unaware they were even covered by federal rules and trumpeting formal prosecutions of employee e-mail misuse.
“Now we know why Scott Bloch has been hiding this report – because it contradicts virtually everything he has said and done over the past nine months,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization had to sue under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain it. “Bloch should repay taxpayers the $140,000 that he blew on a consultant that he intended to ignore.”
This January, Bloch announced plans to open a Midwest Field Office in Detroit and cited the MPRI report as justification but the report does not even mention, let alone recommend, such a move. As part of his plan, Bloch ordered a dozen staff members to relocate but nearly all retired or left for other federal jobs.
The MPRI report also recommended that OSC establish a training program for its staff. In the meantime, Bloch hired his son’s former boarding school headmaster as an expert consultant to create a training curriculum but that effort has yet to produce anything of value.
“As a Bush appointee, Bloch had a unique opportunity to be a powerful force for positive change but he squandered that opportunity with ham-handed ineptitude,” Ruch added, noting that Bloch is under multiple investigations for his conduct while in office. “This consultant report made a lot of sense; too bad it will just gather dust.”