Washington, DC — More than seven months after the Office of Special Counsel’s own staff filed a complaint of retaliation and misconduct against Special Counsel Scott Bloch, an investigation into the charges will finally begin, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The Office of Personnel Management Inspector General Patrick McFarland will undertake the probe at the request of Clay Johnson III, Deputy Director of the President’s Office of Management & Budget.
On March 3, 2005, OSC staff members and a coalition of whistleblower protection and civil rights organizations filed a complaint against the Bush administration’s appointee as Special Counsel, Scott Bloch. The Office of Special Counsel is supposed to be the principal protector of federal whistleblower and merit system rights but Bloch’s own employees accuse him of violating the very laws he is supposed to enforce. The complaint specifies instances of illegal gag orders, cronyism, invidious discrimination, and retaliation in forcing the resignations of one-fifth of OSC headquarters legal and investigative staff.
The complaint was filed with the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency, an umbrella group of inspector general and other government oversight agencies, that has the power to review such complaints when referred by a member agency. The PCIE took no action on the complaint for more than seven months, until this week when Johnson, acting as the chair of PCIE, tasked the OPM Office of Inspector General with conducting an investigation into the charges.
“The President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency appears to be suffering from a shortage of both,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization, along with the Government Accountability Project, the Project on Government Oversight and the Human Rights Campaign, filed the complaint with OSC staff. “Who watches the watchdogs? The disturbingly long period of inaction on this complaint reinforces the notion that the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency actually undercuts its avowed mission of effective oversight.”
The belated OPM Inspector General investigation into Bloch is the third probe into Bloch’s operation after less than two years in office. The Government Accountability Office and a U.S. Senate subcommittee both have ongoing investigations into mass dismissal of hundreds of whistleblower cases, crony hires, and Bloch’s targeting of gay employees for removal while refusing to investigate cases involving discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
During the past seven months, the complaint has been supplemented with new allegations of Bloch supplying misleading information to Congress and misusing his office to support a person espousing creationist views even though OSC had no jurisdiction in the matter.
“Bloch is just another in the growing line of unqualified Bush appointees who manage to make huge messes after just months in office,” Ruch concluded.