Washington, DC â The U.S. Special Counsel has dismissed more than 1,000 whistleblower cases in the past year, according to a letter from the Bush-appointed Special Counsel released last week by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The Special Counsel appears to have taken action in very few, if any, of these cases and has yet to represent a single whistleblower in an employment case.
In a letter dated February 14, 2005 and addressed to U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), Special Counsel Scott Bloch defends his stormy 13 months in office by pointing to a sharp drop in backlogged whistleblower cases.
âEveryone agrees that backlogs and delays are bad but they are not as bad as simply dumping the cases altogether,â stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that this letter is the first account that Bloch has released of his tenure and that his office's report for FY 2004, which ended in October, is overdue. âIf the Office of Special Counsel under Scott Bloch is not helping whistleblowers then there is no reason for the office to continue to exist.â
According to the figures released by Bloch, in the past year the Office of Special Counselâ
- Dismissed or otherwise disposed of 600 whistleblower disclosures where civil servants have reported waste, fraud, threats to public safety and violations of law. Bloch has yet to announce a single case where he has ordered an investigation into the employee's charges. Bloch says that 100 disclosures are still pending; and
- Made 470 claims of retaliation disappear. In not one of these cases did Bloch's office affirmatively represent a whistleblower to obtain relief before the civil service court system, called the Merit Systems Protection Board. Bloch says that another 30 retaliation cases remain in the backlog.
In order to speed dismissals, Bloch instituted a rule forbidding his staff from contacting a whistleblower if their disclosure was deemed incomplete or ambiguous. Instead, OSC would simply dismiss the matter. As a result, hundreds of whistleblowers never had a chance to justify why their cases had merit.
âAccording to Scott Bloch there is no waste, fraud or abuse in the federal government that deserves investigation,â stated Ruch, noting that there may be even more dismissals than Bloch reported because the numbers cited above are limited to what was defined as a backlog and do not include new cases.
Rep. Waxman and Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), the ranking minority party members of the House Government Reform Committee and its Civil Service Subcommittee, respectively, had originally written to ask for an investigation by the Government Accountability Office into Bloch's forced removal of OSC staff, hiring of cronies and failure to answer Freedom of Information Act requests.