Whistle-Muting?

Office of Special Counsel chief Scott Bloch has resigned after much turmoil, following months of pressure to give up his post as the government's putative advocate and investigator of whistle blower complaints.

Bloch bailed out under pressure from the White House five months after the FBI raided his house and government office as part of an obstruction of justice probe, according to a piece by The Post's Carrie Johnson.

Bloch set a peculiar tone for his office, claiming to be a dedicated protector of government employees who speak out about fraud, waste and abuse of tax dollars, even as he fell under scrutiny himself. He is under investigation on allegations that he retaliated against whistleblowers in his own office and then tried to hide the evidence, allegations he has denied.

Even his depature this week was unusual. In his resignation letter, he suggested he was the victim of people who didn't like what he had to say.

"'No one likes the bearer of bad news' wrote the Greek poet Sophocles," his resignation letter to the president begins.

Critics aren't buying that suggestion, though. Among them is Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, which has been examining the office for several years.

"This is a victory for federal workers. It would have been obscene for this man to be able to walk away under his own terms," she said in a statement. "He has left the agency in shambles. It will take a lot of work to repair the damage Bloch caused. It will also be necessary to fix the systemic flaws which have long hampered its effectiveness."


By Robert O'Harrow |  October 24, 2008; 12:31 PM ET
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OSC's largely nullified its duties to protect feds from agency violations of the merit system principles (i.e. "prohibited personnel practices" (PPP's)) and agency violations of other laws, rules, or regulations under its investigatory jurisdiction when it was created, back in 1978, by its (mis)interpretation of what is now 5 USC 1214(e) - that its reporting requirements did not apply to the laws, rules, or regulations under OSC's investigatory jurisdiction.

For the first time, this fundamental nullification of OSC's duty to protect feds who seek its protection is being tested in Court. Anyone who has ever sought OSC's protection since 1978 or ancipates doing so is welcome to join an amicus curiae brief in Carson v. OSC, docket no. 08-5219 in Federal District Court in D.C. No cost to do so, just let us know at oscwatch.org

Posted by: jpcarson1 | October 25, 2008 11:57 AM

I am a federal employee. In 2005, I disclosed what, at the time, I considered were instances of waste, fraud and abuse to my supervisors, however other than my reassignment under false pretenses, nothing was done. In the aftermath, my career was basically destroyed. A complain was submitted to the OSC, however I have noticed an increased emphasis on dismissing the allegations without an investigation into their validity( I was told the OSC does not investigate allegations. Additionally, there has been no assistance whatsoever from the OSC. and a total disregard for protection of the rights of whistle blowers against retaliation.
In 2005, I did not think I was a whistle blower because I was doing my job. It has been an uphill battle, in the absence of legal training, I practically became a "legal expert" into the matter,providing the specific regulations applicability, court interpretations, citations, case histories, etc; in order for the OSC to move forward. It has been a very frustrating endeavor, especially when retaliatory practices at work continue on pervasive but subtle manner.
What is the point of having the OSC if no assistance to whistle blowers is provided; instead obstacles and "all out" effort to "coerce" you into retracting allegations is made?
It took a great deal of perseverance and determination in order for the individual assigned to my case to understand the significance of the allegations.
Finally, I did not do it for personal gain, but because it was the right thing to do! I do not understand why this fact is so difficult to understand!
After three years, perhaps a positive outcome will follow; I hope so on behalf of the future generations.
In retrospect, I wonder if I would do it all over again!; and I understand why other do not come forward.

Posted by: periodico10 | October 27, 2008 1:19 PM

No punishment would be too severe for Scott Bloch's crimes, but he should not be given the role of a scapegoat for crimes committed by his many predecessors, subordinates, and colleagues in other agencies responsible for ruining the lives of whistleblowers, veterans, and other persons they are paid to protect. The Office of Special Counsel used my case as an example of a "favorable settlement for a veteran" after I blew the whistle on a $20,000 bribe offer by two U.S. Forest Service employees to rig a federal civil service selection in 1997. My settlement gained me several months of employment as a scientist, during which I was harassed, and my work interfered with. After firing me one working day before the end of the probationary year, the Forest Service bosses contacted the State of Washington and the Department of the Interior to make sure that I could never work again in the United States. The Merit System Protection Board refused to reinstate me for reasons both false and illegal after its judge, Sidney Farcy, invented justifications for the agency that had been contradicted by Forest Service witnesses at the hearing, even those hostile to me. Other OSC employees both before and during Bloch's tenure deserve to share whatever punishment he receives, and the investigation should also focus on the Merit System Protection Board, Department of Labor, and other agencies that have made whistleblowing a fatal practice.

Posted by: cwheckman | October 27, 2008 1:57 PM

The reason most whistleblower complaints are dismissed is because they don't meet the statutory definition. Most of the ones I have seen involve a mere disagreement with a legitimate management decision than a case of fraud, waste, or abuse. I have seen management make some decisions that seemed pretty stupid to me, but the law does not deprive them of the right to make stupid decisions. We need a new law for that. By the way, they do not need a pretense, false or otherwise, to make a reassignment--it is a legitimate management right. This being said, it seems that Bloch lacked some of the key character traits required for the job he held. While I would expect his replacement to be a better fit for the job, I would not expect a substantial increase in favorable findings for employees.

Posted by: bigtom6156 | October 28, 2008 12:33 PM

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