POGO letter to DOE Secretary Hazel O'Leary concerning recent visit by DOE IG
The Honorable Hazel O'Leary
Department of Energy
Via facsimile: 586-4403
Dear Secretary O'Leary,
On June 21, the Project on Government Oversight released a copy of the DOE Inspector General's "Tentative Findings and Recommendations for the Audit of Controls Over Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory Subcontractor Expenditures" to several media outlets. We released the report because it was important for the public to know that the IG had found 40% of the subcontractor expenditures for the Super Collider "unreasonable because they were unnecessary, excessive or represented uncontrolled cost growth."
Yesterday, we were visited by two Special Agents from the DOE Inspector General's office, Michael Matkowski and Brenda Froberg. They demanded to know how we received a copy of the report and who our sources were. They also asked questions designed to induce me to reveal the sources accidently. It has come to our attention that this visit was prompted by a phone call from Senator Bennett Johnston's office.
The Project is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that for over twelve years has investigated and exposed waste and fraud in government spending. One of the methods we use to reveal examples of systemic problems is to work with whistleblowers inside the system who risk retaliation for exposing waste and fraud themselves.
I have often thought that we function in much the same way as an Inspector General's office is intended to function, although we do so from outside the bureaucracy. To see an I.G. office, however, launch a witch hunt to search out the source of a leak is outrageous and revealing in itself. It certainly explains why whistleblowers do not and should not trust the system.
Obviously, for the draft audit to come to our attention means that somewhere along the line, people believed important information might not see the light of day or until long after the information would be relevant. Ironically, it was information gathered by the very office that was searching for the "leak."
I wonder what would have happened if I had revealed the sources. Would they have been commended for their bravery? Or would they be reprimanded, demoted or worse?
Please stop the Department of Energy's pursuit of these whistleblowers. We would all be better served if this energy were spent on trying to correct the problems that the draft audit revealed.