Hundreds of whistleblower cases dumped

More than 1,000 whistleblower cases were dismissed last year by U.S. Special Counsel Scott Bloch. That was disclosed in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., released Feb. 23 by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

The employee group–PEER–said Bloch appears to have taken action in very, very few of these cases and has never represented a whistleblower in an employment case.

Bloch, in his letter to Rep. Waxman, defended his 13 months in office and pointed to a sharp drop in a backlog of these cases. “I have kept my pledge to Congress and federal employees,” he wrote, “and am pleased to report that we have made tremendous progress in our first year.”

“In January 2005, the backlog was reduced to approximately 100 cases; 30 cases and 40 cases respectively in these three units. I can state without equivocation that this past year’s backlog reduction efforts far surpass any undertaken in the past by this agency.”

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch commented: “Everyone agrees that backlogs and delays are bad, but they are not as bad as simply dumping the cases altogether.” Ruch said this is the first accounting Bloch has made of his time in office and that the annual report for 2004 is overdue. “If the Office of Special Counsel under Scott Bloch is not helping whistleblowers, then there is no reason for the office to continue to exist,” Ruch said.

Figures released by Bloch show his office in the last year dismissed or otherwise dropped 600 cases where whistleblowers reported waste, fraud , threats to public safety and violations of law. Bloch has never announced a single case where he has ordered an investigation into an employee’s charges.

Bloch said 100 disclosures are pending, but 470 claims of retaliation have simply disappeared. In none of these cases did Bloch represent a whistleblower to get relief through the civil service court system, which is known as the Merit Systems Protection Board. Bloch said there are another 30 retaliation cases in the backlog.

Bloch has forbidden his staff from contacting a whistleblower if that person’s disclosure was viewed as incomplete or ambiguous. This would expedite dismissal of such cases. The result has been to prevent hundreds of whistleblowers from showing why their complaints have merit.

“According to Scott Bloch,” said Ruch, “there is no waste, fraud or abuse in the federal government that deserves investigation.” He said there may be even more dismissals than the numbers reported here because they are limited to what was defined as a backlog and don’t include any new cases.

Rep. Waxman, ranking minority member of the House Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., ranking minority member of the House Civil Service Subcommittee, have written to the Government Accountability Office requesting an investigation into Bloch’s forced removal of OSC staff, hiring of cronies and failure to answer Freedom of Information Act requests.

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