Dec. 6, 2005 – Amid growing charges that various federal agencies are acting illegally, the office responsible for investigating many such allegations made by government employees released its 2004 report a year late and with no public announcement.
According to the 2004 report of the United States Office of Special Counsel, only a handful of the nearly 1,200 employee reports of waste, fraud and abuse on the Officeâ€™s schedule at the start of 2004 were deemed worthy of further investigation. Of those investigated, the office found only eight to have merit.
The Office received almost 2,000 new complaints during 2004 and referred 244 for investigation, closing 1,799 within 240 days of receiving them, the report noted. There were 653 complaints carried over from 2003.
In a statement released yesterday, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) alleged that Scott Bloch, the officeâ€™s head and a political appointee of the Bush administration, has been sweeping serious complaints under the rug at the behest of White House officials. For more than a year, PEER has been attacking Bloch over similar concerns, including charges that he conducted a purge of Special Counsel workers for whistle-blowing activities of their own.
"With Scott Bloch at the helm, the Office of Special Counsel is acting as a plumberâ€™s unit for the Bush administration, plugging leaks, blocking investigations and discrediting sources," PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said in the statement. "Under Bloch, political appointees, not civil servants, decide which cases go forward and which cases are round filed."
The OSC report begins with two pages of Blochâ€™s biography and a laundry list of his accomplishments at the helm of the Office.
It does not include information about the controversy surrounding his management of the office. As reported by The NewStandard in April 2004, Bloch first made waves when he decreed that sexual orientation would no longer be considered "protected conduct" for government employees. The move was condemned by lawmakers and, eventually, President Bush. A year later, critics charge, Bloch attempted to orchestrate a virtual purge of the Washington, DC office by forcing senior staffers to transfer to regional branches purportedly created for just that purpose. That move is now under investigation by a separate agency, the Office of Personnel Management.
Of most concern to PEER and the whistleblowers whose complaints went uninvestigated is the fact that Bloch cleared out a huge backlog of complaints, mostly by dismissing investigations without seeking further information from the whistleblower who filed the claim in question, a fact he cited as evidence of the good work the Office of Special Counsel was doing under his command in a letter to Representative Henry Waxman (D-California) earlier this year. PEER obtained and released the letter in February.