POGO 2014 Impact and Selected AccomplishmentsTweet
Selected Impact and Accomplishments for 2014
Closed Revolving Door Loophole at the SEC.
POGO released a report in 2013 showing that many Wall Street firms offer a "revolving door bonus" to executives who leave to go work for the government. POGO’s findings garnered attention from media such as The New York Times, Yahoo!, The Washington Examiner, and The Huffington Post. As a result of POGO’s findings ‘Public Citizen’ began exploring whether it has standing to bring a legal action under Title 18, Section 209 of the United States Code, which prohibits “any contribution" by private parties to members of the "executive branch of the United States Government”. There has been a rule change revoking the revolving door ethics exemption. It relates to enforcement because the exemption had allowed senior enforcement officials to represent clients before the agency as soon as they left. (We obtained documents showing that one former enforcement official represented Merrill Lynch before the SEC on enforcement cases just a few months after he left the agency: http://www.pogo.org/our-work/
The change in ethics rules—revoking a longstanding exemption for some SEC officials—was a rare stand against the revolving door at an agency that has long blurred the lines between regulator and regulated. POGO’s investigative work on this issue won an award from the Society of Professional Journalists Society Washington DC chapter in June 2014.
Increased Standards for Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative.
POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian was elected the chair of the Civil Society sector of the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a Federal Advisory Committee composed of civil society, industry, and government members. In that role, POGO has helped organize outreach efforts to provide communities directly impacted by extractive industries a voice in the crafting of transparency commitments that have been presented to the international EITI board by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Under her leadership of the Civil Society sector, the EITI board approved the United States’ application for meeting the international standard.
In addition to the USEITI application to the Global Board being approved in 2014, POGO has helped expand how EITI will be implemented in the US with an eye toward having these reporting guidelines replicated throughout the world. The first USEITI report will take a detailed look at the communities most impacted by the oil, gas, and mining industries, including minerals, such as gold and copper. The report will provide county-level historical data going back ten years, showing the expenses communities must bare from extractive industries activity, such as increases in local infrastructure maintenance and costs for roads, sanitation, emergency services, water supplies and electrical grid buildup. It will also look at National Bureau of Labor Statistics data for employment numbers to measure job creation and job quality. Future USEITI reports will continue to provide detailed data on these local communities. All of these reporting methods are designed with an eye toward countering industry rhetoric that champions the extractive industry as a catalyst for local economic growth and development without a single mention of the increased costs to a community for their involvement.
Revealed Mass Misconduct by Federal Prosecutors.
POGO obtained data through FOIA and DOJ’s Office of Personal Responsibility (OPR) reports that show that from fiscal year 2002 through fiscal year 2013, hundreds of federal prosecutors and other Justice employees violated rules, laws, or ethical standards governing their work. In the majority of the matters—more than 400—OPR categorized the violations as being at the more severe end of the scale: recklessness or intentional misconduct. A bill proposed by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) would overhaul how misconduct is investigated at the Justice Department. Currently, only OPR is allowed to look into ethics complaints, instead of the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, which is widely considered to be more independent.
Made $100 million Fraud by Northrop Grumman Public.
POGO revealed a Defense Department IG report that showed that Northrop Grumman grossly overcharged the US government for labor costs between October 2007 through March 2013. For example, one employee billed $177,000 for 1,200 hours in just 12 days (12 days only has 288 hours). The contracting agency, the Army Contracting Command-Redstone Arsenal failed to conduct proper supervision of either hours billed nor personnel qualified to conduct the work. The report found that in one case the program manager who charged the government for $1.2 million of work lacked even the required Bachelor’s Degree.
POGO's Angela Canterbury testifies on "Limitless Surveillance at the FDA: Protecting the Rights of Federal Whistleblowers," February 26, 2014.