I have continued to monitor the frustratingly slow, on again, off again trail of justice for federal Defense Security Service whistleblower, Robert Conley. Conley, a veteran Industrial Security Representative, employed by DSS, has had to traverse a long hard trail in trying to secure justice against his former employer’s heavy handed disrespect, waste, fraud, abuse, harassment, and retribution for his whistleblowing after he discovered criminal and civil issues concerning a defense contract between a large aerospace contractor and the federal government.
Conley ran into difficulties processing his case report of an investigation, when DSS officials refused to accept the detailed and extensive investigative report he prepared, after Conley was ordered to cut his investigation short and submit his report. Conley was then ordered to start editing his report. This occurred several times, each time DSS management insisted he take out more of the documented evidence and testimony, that would make the case prosecutable.
Conley refused to sign the now DSS changed reports, which were, after DSS Headquarters manipulation, fraudulent. There was a lot of conflict as DSS tried to force Conley to sign the fraudulent report. Because he could not intimidate Conley into signing the fraudulent report, eventually, the DSS Headquarters manager, Michael McDaniel, signed the fraudulent report himself and then briefed the user agency affected. Since other parties were aware of the issues that were found with this contract, and what the real problems were, things went downhill from there. A massive cover-up appeared to be in process regarding the criminal and civil matters discovered that were issues in this contract, and in this investigation. The DSS manager, Michael McDaniel, who had apparently written, signed, and briefed the fraudulent report, later left DSS and moved directly to employment with a defense contractor. (Keep in mind the functional policy of the U.S. Government appears to be, that once someone leaves federal service, they will not go after them in any legal proceedings, nor will they insist they testify in legal proceedings. If they leave the government, they seem to receive a “get out of jail free card.”)
Conley has endured, along with his counterpart, Randall Kelly, (who had oversight of the program for the Marine Corps), vast amounts of harassment, retribution, and abuse. They were both thoroughly beaten down in every way possible by their employers, effectively ending their careers. They have received massive retribution and abuse for reporting theft and fraud involving a government defense contract. They even received threats of various kinds, and at least one death threat passed along through channels, which did not deter them from seeking proper legal resolution of their investigation and case. It has now been fifteen (15) years of struggle with this situation. (Both were forced into premature retirements eventually, as no support or remedy was offered by any of those government entities who are supposed to help whistleblowers.)
Conley has had to endure a long slow process which included making protected disclosures to various parties, as a part of working through the process of trying to get help and put attention on the attendant problems and alleged criminal activities. As a part of the process, the DCIS (Defense Criminal Investigative Service) had an open case filed. This went nowhere fast, and it appeared that a cover-up was likely in progress, as time passed and nothing constructive happened.
Conley then filed a complaint with the DOD OIG. The DOD OIG had Conley’s complaint and case for an extended period of time. Much more time passed. The DOD OIG official in charge, had gone to the Washington DC office of the DCIS in search of Conley’s “then identified as missing” case, and found Conley’s case, with an unworked Congressional Investigation attached, sitting in Director Rick Beltz’s office, in a stack of similarly unworked cases on his desk. Apparently, cases that for various reasons certain people, or corporations did not wish to see worked, were being held in limbo in that office. This is absolutely unacceptable, and a betrayal of all integrity that should be demonstrated by federal law enforcement and contract enforcement activities. So, if any of you filed a case with the DCIS in the past couple of decades or so, and never saw any action or results, you might check to see if your case was one of those held in the derailed pile on the Director’s desk. I understand Rick Beltz was fired, and the DOD OIG official who was trying to do the right thing was removed from his position and transferred to some other position of less exposure.
The DOD OIG eventually said they would be forwarding the Title 18 Criminal issues to another office for processing. That did not happen, as it appears the cover-up was put into place on the criminal issues, apparently in an effort to protect the implicated defense contractor. Conley’s Title 5, Retribution case was upheld by the DOD OIG, whose report concluded he was indeed a whistleblower, and a victim of harassment, retaliation, and retribution forced on him by the Defense Security Service. The DOD OIG directed DSS to make Mr. Conley whole. Director Stanley Sims chose to ignore the report entirely, although he is the Director who received the DOD OIG report. In fact, he seemed, based on documents uncovered recently, to be enraged that Conley would go to the DOD OIG, and that the DOD OIG would tell the DSS what they can and cannot, will and will not, do and what Sims said in these documents could be construed as threats.
Conley’s case then spent a very long time in waiting with the OSC for them to consider his case. There again appeared to be a lot of pressure on the investigative agency, this time OSC. It appears that the corporate defense contractor and some of the implicated parties including within the management levels of DOD, and possibly the Pentagon itself, have a great deal of influence and are able to intimidate those who are supposed to investigate and assure justice to whistleblowers and others reporting criminal and civil issues that need to be addressed by the legal system. So, in my opinion, there was something not kosher going on there, and the OSC failed to do their duty regarding this case.
I have been made aware that a hearing finally is going to take place, under the auspices of an MSPB judge regarding Title 5 issues on Conley’s behalf.
The hearing will take place at the federal courthouse in Seattle, 915 Second Avenue, Seattle, Washington 98101. I understand it is a public MSPB hearing so if any of you are interested in observing, you may attend. The hearing is scheduled for two days, Monday, January 25 through Tuesday, January 26, 2016.
There is a long list of witnesses and DSS appears to be making effort not to cooperate, or be accountable for their actions, and their lack of decency with regard to how they treat their employees. Throughout the past 15 years, a lot of sudden and insufficiently explained changes have occurred in DSS management levels. Director Stanley Sims, has just left DSS and has gone directly to a lucrative position at a large defense contractor. Industrial Security Director Richard Lawhorn recently left DSS, and has directly taken a lucrative position at another large defense contractor.
There are regulations governing conflict of interest issues, and that prohibit federal employees and officials from using the revolving door to move directly from government oversight positions to defense contractor corporate jobs, where there might be a conflict of interest. I believe there are problems with this succession of DSS employees/managers moving directly from DSS to defense contractors. In fact, I learned that another former DSS Manager, Gregory Gwash, who had left DSS suddenly and directly taken a lucrative position at a large aerospace defense contractor in Seattle a number of years ago, was forced to leave employment with that defense contractor, after a federal AG’s office investigation of his use of the revolving door. Expect I will be writing about this DSS situation in more detail at a later date.