About POGO

Photograph of Elizabeth

Elizabeth "Liz" Hempowicz

Policy Counsel

ehempowicz@pogo.org |

Year Started at POGO: 2014

Area of expertise: Advocacy Campaigns, Policy Analysis, Freedom of Information Act, Government Accountability, Whistleblower Protections

Elizabeth Hempowicz is POGO’s Policy Counsel. She oversees POGO’s legislative reform work, with a focus on whistleblower protections and government accountability. Liz develops and advances public policies to combat corruption and to promote openness and accountability in government. She strategizes on the best way to translate POGO report findings into legislative reforms. She has participated in efforts to improve lobbying and congressional ethics rules, whistleblower protections, the Freedom of Information Act, and other open government initiatives. She has testified before Congress and been quoted or appeared in several news outlets. She earned her J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law in 2014, where she served as the Managing Editor of the Legislation & Policy Brief. She earned a B.A. in International Political Economy and Diplomacy at the University of Bridgeport in 2010, where she graduated magna cum laude. Elizabeth is licensed to practice law in the State of New York.

POGO Highlights:

Wait, the Pentagon Wants Even More Secrecy?

September 16, 2016

If we don't get Congress to change this secrecy clause in the NDAA, we may be stuck with a Pentagon that cannot be held accountable for wasting taxpayer money. Listen to this 9 minute podcast.

POGO Asks DHS to Pause Procurement of Private Detention Centers

August 31, 2016

Earlier today, POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian sent a letter to DHS Secretary Johnson commending him for opening a review of DHS's use of private immigration detention centers and urging him to freeze the contracting process on new private centers pending the findings of that review.

Congress: Protect FOIA from the Pentagon

August 24, 2016

Thirty-nine organizations across the political spectrum demand Congress protect FOIA from the Department of Defense's latest attempt to carve itself out from sharing government records.

Broad Coalition Denounces FOIA Carve Outs In the NDAA

June 14, 2016

Like last year, DoD asked the Armed Services Committees to include carve outs to FOIA law for records that go beyond national security information and instead cover innocuous but potentially embarrassing documents.

Civil Society to House: Pass Widely Supported FOIA Bill

June 13, 2016

POGO and 27 good government, transparency, and civil liberties organizations wrote to express strong support for the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 and asked that the House of Representatives vote on and pass this bill as soon as possible. The bill is scheduled to be considered Monday June 13th.

POGO Urges Senate to Vote Against Nominee to the FDA

February 9, 2016

POGO's Executive Director, Danielle Brian, sent a letter to the Senate urging Senators to vote against Dr. Robert Califf's nomination to head the FDA. Based on our in-depth investigation into one of the clinical trials he chaired, POGO concluded he is not fit to be the FDA Administrator.

POGO Asks President to Withdraw FDA Nominee

February 9, 2016

POGO urged President Obama to withdraw his nominee to head the FDA, Dr. Robert Califf, from Senate consideration.

POGO's Liz Hempowicz Testifies on Whistleblower Protections before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

November 18, 2015

None of us would be aware of the extent of the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs if not for whistleblowers.

POGO Letter to Conferees on the FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act

June 25, 2015

In a letter to the Senate and House Armed Services Committee, POGO outlines key acquisition reform policies, wasteful defense spending in conventional and nuclear weapons and MOX, support for close air support and the A-10, and oversight over risky weapon programs like the littoral combat ship (LCS) and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

POGO's 2015 Baker’s Dozen of Suggested Congressional Oversight Priorities and Legislative Reforms

February 11, 2015

Implementing the following recommendations will help to the country achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical government—one that is truly responsive to the needs of its citizens.

Busting the Myth of Whistleblower Protections for IC Contractors

September 20, 2016

There is one undeniable fact surrounding Snowden’s circumstances that has been misreported by Congress and the Executive Branch far too many times: the Intelligence Community (IC) contractor would have had almost no protections had he come forward through proper channels.

FBI Recognizes Whistleblowers’ Role; Congress Seeks to Improve Protections

August 4, 2016

FBI Director Comey highlighted the culture change necessary to utilize whistleblower complaints, but legislation is still necessary to protect the jobs of those whistleblowers. The House and Senate have offered a bill that would do that.

Just in Time for its 50th Anniversary, FOIA is Improved

July 1, 2016

POGO broke down some of the biggest improvements in the freshly signed FOIA Improvement Act of 2016.

Rare Instance of Transparency in DOJ Attorney Misconduct

May 24, 2016

Last week, an order and opinion by United States District Judge Andrew S. Hanen provided some rare transparency into a case of DOJ attorney misconduct.

Another Year, Another Unhelpful FOIA Report

May 20, 2016

The methodology in an annual agency FOIA survey leaves much to be desired. The Office of Information Policy should take a closer look at how agencies are implementing FOIA.

Some Issues POGO Highlighted with OSC Fixed in House Bill

March 23, 2016

Issues POGO raised in a 2008 report about the Office of Special Counsel were addressed in a recent House Bill.

House Starts 2016 with FOIA Reform; Eyes on the Senate Now

January 12, 2016

The House of Representatives passed the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act, the bipartisan answer to problems that have plagued those who use the Freedom of Information Act for years. It is now up to the Senate to pass this important legislation and get it to the President’s desk.

Organizations Demand Investigation of Insider Threat Program

January 7, 2016

POGO was joined by 21 other civil society organizations across the political spectrum in requesting Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough to investigate whether the Insider Threat Program is being used to improperly target whistleblowers like Thomas Drake.

Marines Mishandle Information-Mishandling Case

December 2, 2015

Another example of the double standard within the armed services for infractions regarding classified information.

Legislation Aims to Fix Bad OLC Decision that Stymies IGs

November 6, 2015

POGO supports the bipartisan Inspector General Empowerment Act of 2015.

Time to Retire the “Hastert Rule” and Return to Order

October 29, 2015

New Speaker of the House Paul Ryan should retire the "Hastert Rule" and lead the House of Representatives back to a place where genuine debate guides the legislating process.

President Obama Vetoes the NDAA over Slush Fund

October 26, 2015

President Obama made good on his promise to veto the National Defense Authorization Act, largely because of the use of the Overseas Contingency Operations account as a Pentagon slush fund.

United Nations: Whistleblowers Need Protection

October 20, 2015

The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression has weighed in on whistleblower protections, highlighting especially the need to provide protections to employees in the national security field.

The Hillary Email Double Standard

September 9, 2015

The Hillary Clinton email scandal illustrates the disparity in the treatment of high-level officials to that of whistleblowers.

To Safeguard the Military, Congress Must Protect Whistleblowers

August 25, 2015

Far too often, whistleblowers are unfairly punished for their efforts to bring accountability to the armed services, and the systems in place to protect them are completely inadequate.

Why the NDAA is Much Bigger than Just the Defense Budget

July 13, 2015

The annual behemoth defense spending bill has become the method of choice for a lot of elected officials to shuttle unpopular legislation through Congress in near secrecy.

POGO Asks the House to Protect Oil and Gas Reform

July 8, 2015

POGO urged the Members of the House of Representatives to vote against an amendment to HR 2822 that would prohibit the use of funds to increase oil and gas royalty rates, meaning that Americans could miss out on millions of dollars in revenue.

Application of FOIA in Army Case Leaves Much to be Desired

July 1, 2015

U.S. Central Command is misusing the Freedom of Information Act to hide a report on war crimes in Afghanistan.

Final Rule Ignores Warnings, Strips Employees of Due Process

June 5, 2015

POGO commented on a proposed rule regarding sensitive national security positions in the government back in 2013. Unfortunately, according to a notice published today, that rule remains largely unchanged and will be made final soon.

SASC Finally Reports Breakdown of Vote to Close NDAA

May 27, 2015

With little fanfare, the Senate Armed Services Committee finally released its NDAA report—and with it, the rulebreaking roll call vote from April 23, 2015. A month after the vote was held.

Senate Staff, Not Senators, Decided to Close the NDAA

May 19, 2015

The secretive Senate Armed Services Committee vote to hold debate on the National Defense Authorization Act in a closed session broke more rules than originally thought.

Congress Still Playing Keep-Away with CRS Reports

May 14, 2015

The House Appropriations Committee has decided to maintain a ban on the Congressional Research Service’s ability to publish its reports, holding tight to symbolic congressional control of this information.

Social Media Campaign Prompts Senate Action

May 12, 2015

Newly released FOIA documents show that a social media campaign about FOIA legislation caught the attention of Capitol Hill staffers and helped move the bill through the Senate last Congress.

We Need Your Help to Open the Defense Budget

May 7, 2015

We only have a few days left to persuade the Senate Armed Services Committee to support public hearings on the more than $600 billion Pentagon budget.

Senate Committee—Breaking Rules and Not Giving Names

May 6, 2015

Not only does the Senate Armed Services Committee want to debate their behemoth authorization bill in secret, they want to do so by disregarding their own committee rules.

Petraeus Sentence Adds Insult to Injury for Whistleblowers

April 24, 2015

The final turn in Petraeus’s case—his sentence—would be laughable if it wasn’t so insulting to the national security whistleblowers who face decades in prison for leaking classified information in order to stop our government from acting illegally or unconstitutionally, in a way that endangers American lives.

SASC Votes Early and in the Dark on Opening NDAA

April 23, 2015

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted to keep this year’s National Defense Authorization Act markup behind closed doors.

Time For Action - Tell Senators to Open the Pentagon's Budget

April 22, 2015

The Senate Armed Services Committee will discuss whether their upcoming markups on the massive Pentagon budget should be done in public – something that the House does in the open but their Senate counterparts have historically refused to do.

Attempting to Put the Revolving Door Out of Service

April 17, 2015

Freshman Representative introduces toughest anti-revolving door legislation yet, targeting his colleagues that go from elected office to lobbying.

Alarming Flip-Flop on Whistleblowers from Senator Harry Reid

March 31, 2015

So close to his retirement, Senator Harry Reid has displayed a confusing and alarming change of heart towards whistleblowers, recently calling those who alleged he was involved in political wrongdoing "a bunch of whiners."

Other Areas that Could Use a Little Sun

March 30, 2015

Although Sunshine Week 2015 is over, there are still so many areas of government that would benefit from increased transparency and openness.

SANE Act Reintroduced; Would Save Taxpayers Tens of Billions

March 23, 2015

The reintroduced SANE Act, if passed, would save taxpayers an estimated $100 billion dollars over the next 10 years, in part by implementing reforms that POGO has been advocating for years.

The Senate Should Let the Sun Shine on the NDAA

March 20, 2015

Holding debates and markups in secret is the antithesis of open government, and the Senate Armed Services Committee should consider opening up its doors to the public.

Four Steps to Increase Government Transparency

March 16, 2015

This Sunshine Week, the Project On Government Oversight joins over 20 other organizations in asking the White House to get actively involved in the fight for openness.

Air Force General Should be Held Accountable

February 5, 2015

The Project On Government Oversight was joined by a group of concerned organizations and individuals in writing Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to express our concern about Maj. Gen. James Posts' statement and the implications it has on military whistleblowers.

POGO to FDA on Conflicts of Interest: Disclose Them!

January 20, 2015

POGO once again reaches out to the FDA to ask the agency to make public any potential financial conflicts of interests of its advisers.

POGO to Launch Congressional Subpoena Rule Database

January 16, 2015

POGO’s Congressional Oversight Initiative has begun to create an online database of each committee's and subcommittee’s subpoena and deposition rules, and is reaching out to congressional staff for opinions on how these rules help or hinder bipartisan cooperation and effective oversight.

The Time is Ripe for New Rules on Congressional Oversight

December 18, 2014

Congressional oversight of national security issues has not inspired much confidence recently; however, the new House has a chance to adopt new procedural rules and improve its ability to carry out meaningful oversight.

Last Minute Frenzy Around FOIA and Its Disappointing End

December 16, 2014

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate unanimously passed Freedom of Information Act reform laws in this past year, yet the 113th Congress ended without sending any FOIA legislation to the President. How last minute lobbying quietly killed widely supported bipartisan FOIA reform.

FOIA Reform Looking Possible in Lame Duck Congress

December 4, 2014

With one month left in the 113th Congress, FOIA reform looks more promising than ever. POGO is hopeful that the Senate will be able to move S. 2520 fast enough to see the significant reform passed into law before the new year.

Awaiting Answers from DOE IG on Whistleblower’s Accusations

November 21, 2014

The Department of Energy's Inspector General has yet to deliver answers about the firing of whistleblower Dr. James Doyle and the underlying ambiguous classification procedures used by DOE and its contractors.

Last Week in FOIA—Exploring Solutions to Today’s Problems

November 6, 2014

Last week was a busy one for FOIA advocates, and POGO offers a short roundup of some of the events that took place.

In Defense of National Security Whistleblowers

September 26, 2014

In a recent Harvard Law & Policy Review article, Yochai Benkler, law professor and co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, introduced the idea of a “public accountability defense,” especially for national security whistleblowers.

DOE Handling of Whistleblower Case Leaves Much To Be Desired

September 19, 2014

The Department of Energy Inspector General will investigate Dr. James Doyle's termination for any impropriety from DOE.

POGO Joins in Asking FCC to Reform Radio Political Ad Info

August 29, 2014

POGO joins 10 other groups asking the FCC to require radio stations to post political ad spending information to an online database.

June 28, 2016

The U.S. Navy’s “Fat Leonard Scandal” Highlights the Need for Whistleblower Protection

The National Interest; The Buzz | By POGO's Dan Grazier and Elizabeth "Liz" Hempowicz

April 12, 2016

Proposed FOIA Changes Could Shield Pentagon Documents on Torture, Contractor Abuse

Government Executive; govexec.com | By Charles S. Clark

February 20, 2016

These 8 federal agencies are the worst. Here's how to fix them

Washington Examiner | By Washington Examiner Staff

June 14, 2015

Has America changed since Edward Snowden's disclosures?

Summit Daily | By David Sirota

June 10, 2015

Free Speech Zone

Huff Post Live; Whistleblower Protection Story begins around 10:04. | By Alyona Minkovski

March 12, 2015

Whistleblowers and the prosecution loophole

The Hill | By Shanna Devine and Liz Hempowicz

February 19, 2015

5 Government Reforms That Could Save Billions

The Fiscal Times | By Brianna Ehley