Washington, DC — Seeking to deflect public attention, the Office of Special Counsel posted an overdue annual report to Congress on its website this past Tuesday, Election Day, but removed the link for the report the next day, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). This elusive report, obtained by PEER, paints a dismal picture of declining performance in the federal agency whose chief mission is advocacy for whistleblowers.
At the same time, right-wing columnists are writing that the Bush White House has twice asked for the resignation of its own appointee as Special Counsel, Scott Bloch. The Special Counsel has a fixed five-year term and can be removed only for cause.
“Scott Bloch joins Michael Brown of FEMA as the only people the Bush administration has ever asked to quit for incompetence,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing out it seems obvious Bloch himself is planting the material about White House displeasure. “Scott Bloch appears to be attempting to make himself into a right-wing martyr so that he will be canonized if he is canned.”
Even though the 2007 Fiscal Year is more than a month old, Bloch is only now releasing his report to Congress for FY 2005. Last month through the Freedom of Information Act, PEER obtained the annual survey by OSC of whistleblowers and other employees. That survey is supposed to be included in the FY2005 Report. In fact, the survey obtained by PEER bore footers and page numbers indicating that it was already integrated into a still unpublished report.
After posting the full FY 2005 report on Election Day, OSC then de-linked the report from its website. This report reflects a failing track record for the $15.3 million agency:
- Settlements for whistleblowers declined 25% from the previous year and have declined by more than half since Bloch took office. In no case did OSC seek relief for a whistleblower where the agency had not already voluntarily agreed to the action;
- Of the nearly 500 disclosures by federal employees of wrongdoing in their agencies, OSC deemed only 4% (19 cases) worthy of investigation. The rest of the whistleblower disclosures were dismissed without any follow-up or further review;
- Following the forced resignation of the head of its mediation unit, no OSC cases were settled through alternative dispute resolution.
“Under Bloch, this agency has become a walking disaster area,” Ruch added, noting that Bloch has been in place for nearly three years. “The Office of Special Counsel now rips off both the whistleblower and the American taxpayer who expects more results for the millions spent on this dysfunctional operation.”