Archive for April, 2011


Here is some good information from Government Accountability Project (GAP) regarding the culprit who put a hold on the Whistleblower Protection Act, and is being aided and abetted by other Senators to evade taking responsibility.  GAP has been asking people to help pressure their Senators to get a definite yes or no on whether he or she was the Senator to place the hold.  Presently they have narrowed it down to three Senators.  Is one of them yours? 

-GFS

 

GAP Announces Results of Campaign to Identify ‘Secret Hold’ Senator

This weekend, GAP (Government Accountability Project) and On The Media will conclude our campaign to identify the senator who placed the anonymous hold on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), effectively killing the bill at the end of the last congressional term. GAP Legal Director Tom Devine will wrap up the campaign and its findings on On The Media.

Since the campaign began in early January, we were able to rule out nearly every senator as being a suspect. After the list of prospective senators was narrowed down to five (as a result of your steadfast advocacy!), over 1,000 people signed our Change.org petition urging these remaining senators to either confirm or deny placing the hold. This increased pressure allowed us to further eliminate Senator McConnell and Senator Vitter, leaving only Senator Risch, Senator Kyl, and Senator Sessions as potential suspects.

Please check with your local NPR station to see what time On The Media will air this weekend, and tune in to listen to Tom Devine speak about the conclusion of the campaign, and where we’re going from here!

Additionally, GAP wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of our supporters who participated in our campaign. Because of your efforts, whistleblower rights for all federal employees are closer to becoming a reality.

Senate Shenanigans

March 14, 2011 · By Shanna Devine

Secret holds are just an anonymous filibuster.

As its opening act this year, the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution to restrict–but not eliminate–a maneuver known as the “secret hold.” The rules still allow a single senator to anonymously delay urgent legislation.

Even bills commanding overwhelming support can get stopped in their tracks when they face “unanimous consent,” a procedure that allows for the quick passage of noncontroversial legislation. This is an affront to democratic principles.

Just how do secret holds work? A single senator can request a hold on any legislation–without justification or explanation–to his or her party’s leadership. At that point, the legislation can’t move forward unless the Senate Majority Leader intervenes.

Previously, senators could remain anonymous for six days, after which they were required to either lift the hold or be publicly identified. Now, thanks to a joint resolution led by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Susan Collins (R-ME), the identities of senators requesting holds will be recorded in the Congressional Record after two days.

The rationale for the rule’s creation was simple and reasonable. The Senate gets extremely busy. During high-volume times, several bills and massive pieces of legislation are simultaneously pushed through the chamber. Often senators need extra time to read a thousand-page bill, gather information, thoroughly consider potential ramifications, and vote in their constituents’ best interest. Guaranteeing short-term anonymity makes sense because senators could be wrongfully labeled as opponents of legislation when they simply want to cast an informed vote.

Unfortunately, senators have heavily abused this process. Working in tag-teams, they would often take turns placing holds every five days, because on the sixth day their identity would be revealed. This tactic allowed both senators to remain anonymous while assuring that the bill would not move forward. This is our democratic process at its worst. Furthermore, if senators decided to place a hold with fewer than five days remaining in the congressional session, they got to kill legislation without stepping forward at all. Effectively, secret holds have become an anonymous way to filibuster.

Case in point: in the last hour of the previous session of Congress, one senator placed a secret hold on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which would have have strengthened rights for federal employees when they report waste, fraud, and abuse. This sorely needed legislation was ripe for passage. A similar version of this legislation had passed in the Senate just two weeks prior by unanimous consent. Over the next several days, due to unfounded concerns related to WikiLeaks, the legislation’s scope was reduced to exclude federal intelligence workers.

Other than deletions, not a word was changed from the version the Senate had already approved. Through a rare agreement between former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and then-Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), it also passed the House by unanimous consent. Then a senator–we don’t know who, of course–put a secret hold on it hours later. There’s a strong, ongoing campaign to determine which senator placed the hold. Hopefully, that information will surface.

The overwhelming majority of Congress understands the true value of whistleblowers. Lawmakers came close to strengthening their rights in December. It’s no wonder this legislation enjoyed so much support from both sides of the aisle–it would have curtailed government malfeasance by providing federal whistleblowers with safe channels to speak out. But so far, Congress still hasn’t approved the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.

The Senate has faced heavy criticism for using secret holds. This practice is the antithesis of government accountability and transparency. When the amendment reduced the amount of time from six days to two, some senators claimed good government reforms had triumphed.

Unfortunately, even with that change, lawmakers may still place secret holds just hours before Congress adjourns. There’s nothing to stop future good-government bills from meeting an untimely death at the hands of anonymous senators.

Until Congress sets more reasonable standards for secret holds, individual senators, or a group of them taking turns, can secretly stonewall any bill that’s subject to unanimous consent.

Link to original:    http://www.ips-dc.org/articles/senate_shenanigans

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Someone sent me this comment regarding the Scott Bloch travesty.  -GFS

No one in Washington wants this person to do any serious time. He may get upset and start pointing fingers at who, within our government retaliates against the Federal workers. Congress certainly does not want Whistle Blowers to have protections because the minute they are protected, the floodgates open and the citizenry would then find out who the real crooks are.

 It is only common sense, the politicians must prevent the American public from knowing what they have always suspected, and that is that members of Congress are there for the Graft, Greed and Corruption. Punishing one of their own, like Scott Bloch of the Office of Special Counsel, who so loyally and successfully protected the guilty for all those years, would just not be in the best interest of the members of Congress. 

 –Disgusted in DC

 ———————————————————————————————————————————– 

National Whistleblowers Center

3238 P Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20007

http://www.whistleblowers.org 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Lindsey M. Williams (202) 342-1903

lmw@whistleblowers.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Former Special Counsel Sentenced to One Month in Prison

 

Washington, D.C. March 31, 2011. Scott Bloch, the former head of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), was sentenced to one month in prison, twelve months probation and 200 hours of community service yesterday, after he pled guilty to criminal charges for his misconduct during is tenure at OSC. 

During FY 2008, of the 530 new whistleblower disclosures brought to the OSC, just 25 were reported to the President and Congress, meaning 95% of whistleblower disclosures brought to the OSC were ignored with no determination ever made on their validity. More “highlights” on Mr. Bloch’s tenure at the OSC can be found at civilservicechange.org, courtesy of Charlotte Yee.

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center, said:

Instead of deterring fraud, which was his job as the head of the Office of Special Counsel, Scott Bloch promoted it. This will ultimately cost the American taxpayer billions of dollars. It is a shame that Mr. Bloch has been given nothing more than a slap on the wrist for his crimes, while true whistleblowers such as Bradley Birkenfeld are ostracized and imprisoned.

It has now been over two years since President Obama made a campaign promise to appoint a strong advocate for whistleblowers as the new Special Counsel. The National Whistleblowers Center repeats our call for the immediate appointment of someone who is aggressive, competent, independent and will change the culture of the OSC and stand behind whistleblowers.

Links:

“Highlighting the Accomplishments of Scott Bloch” (Charlotte Yee)

http://civilservicechange.org/?p=2952

Highlighting the accomplishments of Scott Bloch, former head of the Office of Special Counsel

Posted in July 19th, 2010

by C Yee in Absurd, Accountability, Current Events, Merit Systems Protection Board Statistics

Tomorrow, Scott Bloch, former head of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), is scheduled to be sentenced before Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson. Bloch has pleaded guilty to one count of criminal contempt of Congress for not disclosing the nature and extent of his instructions that a private company erase files from his government-issued computer and the computers of two other Office of Special Counsel employees. As this ominous day approaches, from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel Fiscal year 2008 Annual Report, here are some highlights of Bloch’s five-year OSC career:

During his tenure, Scott Bloch reduced total matters pending at OSC by 56 percent. Statistical analysis indicates he accomplished this by having his agency throw out matters without investigating them. In Fiscal Year 2008, of 2,447 Prohibited Personnel Practice (PPP) Complaints, OSC referred six percent of them to the Complaints Examining Unit (CEU). Of these, only 88 were processed. Prohibited Personnel Practice Complaints made up 67 percent of total matters, yet only 88 of 2,447, four percent were processed by investigators.

In FY 2008, OSC obtained zero stays from the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), the quasi-judicial agency tasked with enforcing federal civil service law. In the same year, OSC filed zero corrective action petitions with MSPB.

On whistleblower disclosure activity, OSC received 530 new disclosures in FY 2008. Of these, 25 were reported to the President and Congress. That’s less than five percent that were investigated and any determination made on disclosure validity. Looking at it another way, 95 percent of whistleblower disclosures were not acknowledged by OSC.

That then, explains the record low satisfaction ratings OSC garnered in its survey of customers. Of those that responded to its survey, only 1 out of every 21 respondents obtained a satisfactory result from OSC. Moreover, more than half of respondents indicated that their complaint included allegations of whistleblowing. On a five-point scale, 200 of 220 rated OSC’s results as either dissatisfactory or very dissatisfactory.

As Scott Bloch heads for sentencing tomorrow, he leaves behind innocent victims sentenced to reprisal by his failure to protect those he was tasked to serve. Additionally, as Special Counsel William E. Reukauf’s message from OSC’s Annual Report reads, “FY 2008 was a challenging time for this small, but important, agency. Employees were called upon to respond to and cooperate with two extensive inquiries involving the then-agency head, including a grand jury investigation, and execution of search warrants on agency premises.”