Feb. 1, 2006 – A required annual report released last week by the federal agency tasked with investigating charges of misconduct and fraud in the federal government appears to be short on substance, a public employees group charged this week. The accusations continue efforts by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) to draw attention to what it sees as purposeful failures by the United States Office of Special Counsel.
- Federal Whistleblower Office Accused of â€˜Purgingâ€™ Staff (Jan 13, 2005)
- Whistleblower advocates fired, relocated from Special Counsel office (Feb 9, 2005)
- Whistleblower Office Workers Charge Boss With Rights Violations (Mar 8, 2005)
- Investigation of Govâ€™t Whistleblower Office Purges Underway, Finally (Oct 20, 2005)
- Hundreds of Whistleblower Cases Dismissed Improperly, Group Charges (Dec 6, 2005)
The Office of Special Counsel is tasked with protecting federal employees from illegal discrimination or retaliation.
Monday, PEER released a statement decrying the Special Counselâ€™s 2005 report for failing to include the number of investigations that found in favor of employees during the year. Previously, PEER and other groups charged that agency head Scott Bloch, a Bush administration appointee, was summarily discarding cases without investigating their merits, as well as purging staffers and enabling discrimination against homosexual government employees.
According to publicly available information compiled by PEER, the number of cases resulting in "favorable actions," or reversals of discipline actions and discharges, has dropped precipitously since Bloch took the officeâ€™s reins. The Special Counsel reported just 68 findings in favor of workers in 2004, compared to 115 in 2003 and 126 in 2002.
Citing concerns of "creating a bias toward prosecuting non-meritorious cases," the Office for the first time declined to report the number of "favorable actions" in the current report, covering 2005.
"This is like a district attorney refusing to say what his conviction rate is for fear of creating bias against criminals," PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said.
A growing number of groups and individuals have been calling either for an investigation of Bloch or demanding he resign or be fired. In October, the Office of Personnel Management announced that it was investigating allegations made against Bloch â€“ over seven months after his subordinates, who normally run inquiries into such affairs at other agencies, began requesting an investigation.