About POGO

David Hilzenrath

David S. Hilzenrath

Chief Investigative Reporter

dhilzenrath@pogo.org |

PGP Public Key

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Year Started at POGO: 2012

David Hilzenrath joined POGO as editor-in-chief in June 2012.  Before that, he was a journalist for The Washington Post.

At POGO, Hilzenrath has overseen investigative reporting on topics such as:

Hilzenrath has led POGO’s investigative staff to nine awards for excellence in journalism, including the Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Award, a Sigma Delta Chi award, and three prizes for investigative reporting.

In January 2017, he became a professorial lecturer at Georgetown University, where he developed and taught the course “Investigating the Federal Government.”

As a reporter on The Washington Post’s financial desk, he wrote extensively about the intersection of business and government.  He reported on the financial crisis, the regulation of the financial industry, and the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the policing of Wall Street.  He probed subjects as diverse as the finances of presidential candidates, offshore banking and money-laundering, executive compensation, the Deepwater Horizon disaster, federal tax policy, and accounting fraud.  He wrote about corporate scandals from Enron and WorldCom to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Bernie Madoff, and MF Global.   His reporting on systemic conflicts of interest in the auditing of Corporate America helped provide a roadmap for reform.  Hilzenrath scrutinized efforts to overhaul health care under presidents Obama and Clinton and has reported in depth on the business-driven transformation of the health care system.

He was a contributing author of Landmark: The Inside Story of America’s New Health Care Law and What It Means for Us All (Public Affairs, 2010).  His honors while at The Post included the Morton Mintz Award for Investigative Reporting and the Bill Pryor Memorial Grand Prize for Writing.  He has appeared on radio and television, including NPR, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, and C-SPAN.

Hilzenrath studied at the University of Michigan through the program now known as the Knight-Wallace Fellowship.  He is an honors graduate of Harvard College, where he majored in government.

Interior Dept Gives Rules Drafted by Oil Industry Force of Law

August 7, 2018

The government gives industry-created standards legal force even when those standards are hard to access.

Exxon Underpaid U.S. in Offshore Oil Dispute, Report Says

June 14, 2018

Exxon Mobil owed the U.S. government royalties on oil extracted from the Gulf of Mexico, the Interior Department Inspector General reported in 2017.

PwC Whistleblower Alleges Fraud in Audits of Silicon Valley Companies

May 10, 2018

A former PwC auditor filed a whistleblower complaint with the SEC alleging the accounting firm, also known as PricewaterhouseCoopers, has pulled punches in audits of Silicon Valley companies to keep corporate managers happy and avoid losing their business.

Drilling Down: Oil Companies Are Having Their Cake and Eating It, Too

February 22, 2018

The Interior Department has a history of letting energy companies have their cake and eat it, too—by issuing offshore drilling rights at liquidation-sale prices and cutting companies a break on royalties.

Drilling Down: Big Oil's Bidding

February 22, 2018

The Interior Department’s flawed system for auctioning offshore leases has allowed oil and gas companies to secure drilling rights for a pittance at the expense of the American people, to whom the resources belong, a POGO investigation found.

Congress, FDA Poised to Loosen Oversight of Medical Devices

June 20, 2017

Congress is poised to pass the FDA Reauthorization Act, which would loosen FDA oversight of medical devices. It would ratify agreements the agency has negotiated with industry to keep the agency funded largely through so-called user fees paid by makers of medical products.

FDA Set Low Bar for Approval of Blood Thinners

December 12, 2016

The Project On Government Oversight’s past reporting on prescription blood thinners illustrates how low the FDA has set the bar for drug approval and what the FDA has glossed over or overlooked along the way.

FDA Depends on Industry Funding; Money Comes with “Strings Attached”

December 1, 2016

The Food and Drug Administration depends on the drug industry for much of its funding, and that money, in the form of “user fees,” comes with strings attached: every five years, the pharmaceutical industry gets to negotiate with the FDA the terms under which funding is reauthorized, giving industry extraordinary influence over its regulator.

In FDA Meetings, "Voice" of the Patient Often Funded by Drug Companies

December 1, 2016

The Food and Drug Administration is required by law to consult with patient and consumer groups, but the vast majority of the groups the FDA included in a recent round of “stakeholder” meetings received funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Many of the groups have other ties to industry, such as drug company personnel on their boards.

System Failure

October 6, 2014

Army veteran Steven P. Massong's nightmare began after a routine procedure at a VA hospital in 2005 led to the amputations of his right foot and scrotum. In the nine years since, he has been lost in a bureaucratic quagmire trying to get the disability benefits he seeks.

State Department Gives Misleading Testimony to Senate

September 9, 2013

Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy delivered inaccurate and misleading testimony to a Senate panel in July when he claimed that the contractor now responsible for protecting the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, rebuffed two direct attacks on the embassy compound.

Unreleased: Probe Finds CIA Honcho Disclosed Top Secret Info to Hollywood

June 4, 2013

The Defense Department Inspector General’s office has been sitting on a report that former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta disclosed “TOP SECRET” information and other sensitive details two years ago at an event attended by a “Hollywood executive” working on the movie Zero Dark Thirty.

Biotech Exec Hosted by Trump Butters Up FDA Chief

December 14, 2017

The FDA fast tracked the experimental drug migalastat after Amicus Therapeutics CEO John F. Crowley sent a flattering personal note to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

Whistleblowing Could Leave Oil Rig Workers at Risk

November 7, 2017

Offshore oil and gas workers who the blow the whistle on workplace safety hazards lack federal protections, and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is considering dropping its recommendation to fill that gap.

Ruling Limits Government’s Power to Police Offshore Drilling

October 6, 2017

An appeals court has ruled that the government cannot use a major set of safety and environmental regulations to prosecute offshore drilling contractors.

Questions for Trump’s FDA Nominee

April 3, 2017

President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration has deep roots in the pharmaceutical industry he would oversee.

Trump’s Dangerous Prescription for the FDA

March 3, 2017

President Donald Trump called the FDA drug approval process slow and burdensome, but the evidence he cited could point to the opposite conclusion. Slashing regulatory restraints as he proposed could pose medical and financial hazards.

UPDATE: DOJ Subpoenas Maker of Faulty Blood Testing Devices Spotlighted by POGO

August 12, 2016

Alere Inc., maker of faulty INRatio blood testing devices, said it has received a Justice Department subpoena for records related to the devices’ accuracy and “interactions with the FDA.”

FDA Says Faulty Devices Had "Minimal" Impact on Trial Led by New Boss

July 13, 2016

The FDA said faulty INRatio blood testing devices had “minimal” impact on a clinical trial of blood thinner Xarelto that FDA head Robert Califf co-chaired.

Faulty Blood Testing Devices to Be Withdrawn from Market

July 13, 2016

Alere, maker of INRatio blood testing devices whose potentially fatal flaws POGO spotlighted, said it is taking the machines off the market.

FDA to Tighten Standards for Blood-Test Devices

March 24, 2016

Tackling a problem POGO spotlighted, the FDA plans to tighten standards for error-prone blood-testing devices linked to deaths and injuries in patients taking the blood thinner warfarin.

Drug Problems: Did Bad Blood Tests Turn a Clinical Trial into a Mistrial?

March 15, 2016

Recent studies by the European Medicines Agency and a team based at Duke University dismissed concerns that malfunctioning testing devices compromised a clinical trial of the blood thinner Xarelto, but each of those studies leaves questions.

FDA Nominee Califf Gave Questionable Answers to Senate

February 4, 2016

Robert Califf, a former Duke University researcher who is awaiting Senate confirmation as FDA commissioner, gave questionable answers to the Senate about the independence of clinical trials conducted for drug companies.

New Cloud over Clinical Trial Led by FDA Nominee

February 1, 2016

A court filing in litigation over the blood thinner Xarelto casts a new cloud over a clinical trial co-chaired by Robert Califf, who President Obama has nominated to be FDA commissioner.

After Problems Revealed, FDA Seeks Solutions for Blood Testing Devices

December 23, 2015

The FDA has scheduled a public meeting to discuss issues related to the safety and effectiveness of point of care PT/INR blood testing devices. The devices measure the clotting rates of patients on the blood thinner warfarin and are used to prevent incorrect dosing, which can lead to strokes and hemorrhages.

Leaders of Xarelto Clinical Trial Reaffirm Conclusions

December 9, 2015

After reviewing a clinical trial of the blood thinner Xarelto to see if defective testing devices affected the results, leaders of the trial reaffirm their original conclusions.

Drug Problems: European Regulator Investigating Trial Led by FDA Nominee

November 30, 2015

European regulator EMA is investigating a clinical trial of the blood thinner Xarelto, which Robert Califf, President Obama’s nominee for FDA commissioner, helped lead.

Drug Problems: Duke Reassessing Data From Trial Led By FDA Nominee

November 20, 2015

The Duke Clinical Research Institute is reassessing data from a clinical trial of Xarelto that FDA nominee Robert Califf helped lead.

Drug Problems: Nominee to Head FDA Led Clinical Trial FDA Faulted

November 12, 2015

Robert Califf, President Obama’s nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration, helped lead a clinical trial that was sharply criticized by FDA reviewers and outside advisors.

FDA Approves Antidote for Pradaxa, Calls It “Necessary”

October 20, 2015

Five years after approving the blood thinner Pradaxa without an antidote, the FDA approved an antidote and said it was “medically necessary” when bleeding “can’t be controlled."

State Department Watchdog Didn’t Bark About Clinton Email

March 20, 2015

The State Department Inspector General gathered data a year ago showing that few Department emails were being preserved as official records, but the internal watchdog did not release the report until Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account became a top story.

Audit Faults State Dept’s Kabul Embassy Security Management

November 17, 2014

An audit by the State Department’s Inspector General found lapses in the Department’s oversight of a contract with Aegis Defense Services for protection of the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.

At VA, Complaint Couched in Humor Was a Punishable Offense

July 30, 2014

VA employee and whistleblower Stuart Kallio was reprimanded for sending a satirical email in which he imagined his life as a “Homeless Supervisor” after his cubicle was given to someone else.

State Dept. Corrects Testimony POGO Exposed as Misleading

September 20, 2013

A week after the Project On Government Oversight exposed recent State Department testimony on embassy security as inaccurate and misleading, the Department has written a letter to members of the U.S. Senate acknowledging that its testimony was wrong and correcting the record.

Questions for Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy

September 18, 2013

At a House hearing Wednesday, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy faced intense questioning about Benghazi. There are also questions Kennedy could answer about the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, where former guards say security problems could lead to tragedy.

Senators Ask State Department To Respond to POGO Report on Embassy Security

September 12, 2013

Leaders of a Senate panel are asking the State Department to explain how its assurances about security at the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan square with a report this week by the Project On Government Oversight documenting problems.

Review Finds Security Problems at Diplomatic Posts

July 18, 2013

An audit by the State Department Inspector General found deficient security at overseas posts under high threat.

Lawmaker Calls on Pentagon to Release Report on Zero Dark Thirty Probe

June 6, 2013

Rep. Peter King wants the Pentagon to release the results of an investigation he requested almost two years ago into possible leaks of classified information to the makers of Zero Dark Thirty, the movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

As Veterans Wait for Care, VA Allegedly Papers Over Delays

March 14, 2013

By altering dates logged, Department of Veterans Affairs employees minimize reported wait times for veterans' medical appointments, the GAO says.

VA Suppressed Data on Gulf War Vets' Health Problems, Former Official Says

March 13, 2013

The Department of Veterans Affairs has suppressed evidence that Gulf War veterans’ health problems could be linked to their exposure to toxic substances during the 1991 war, a former VA epidemiologist alleges.

Lawsuit: Kabul Embassy Guards Told to Lie About Long Hours

January 23, 2013

Guards responsible for protecting the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, have often worked 14 to 18 hours per day for six or seven days per week and have been directed to file false time records to avoid revealing that they have exceeded the standard 72-hour workweek, a lawsuit alleges.

March 5, 2018

David Hilzenrath: POGO outlines results of Interior Department investigation

Federal News Radio | By Tom Temin

February 22, 2018

Royalty panel should fix 'dysfunctional' leasing — report

E&E News | By Pamela King

July 11, 2017

F.D.A. Deal Would Relax Rules on Reporting Medical Device Problems

The New York Times | By Sheila Kaplan

January 17, 2017

Study Reveals Potential Conflict Of Interest In Patient Advocacy Funding

91.3 HQR News | By Richard Harris

December 10, 2015

Path to Top FDA Post Gets a Bit Rockier for Califf

TCTMD | By Michael O'Riordan

November 16, 2015

Questions for President Obama’s Nominee to lead the F.D.A.

The New York Times | By Editorial

October 15, 2015

FDA was ‘lax’ and kowtowed to drugmaker in review of controversial blood thinner, watchdog says

The Washington Post | Federal Eye | By Lisa Rein