The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently reported out the Thoroughly Investigating Retaliation Against Whistleblowers Bill. Among other good reforms, this bill codifies solutions to problems the Project On Government Oversight revealed in a 2008 report about the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a government agency whose mandate is to help and protect federal employees who blow the whistle from within government agencies.
POGO’s report found that under the destructive leadership of Scott Bloch from 2004 through mid-December 2008, the OSC became significantly less effective at helping whistleblowers, and even took actions which harmed them. POGO’s report also found that OSC’s reporting practices were murky, making it impossible to tell exactly what was going on.
The House bill is now requiring much greater reporting transparency from the OSC, reflecting POGO’s finding that its reporting practices were opaque. Although the OSC has been voluntarily reporting more than is required by law, the bill will codify these best practices. If the bill passes, OSC will be required to submit a report that includes the number, types, and disposition of allegations of prohibited personnel practices (PPP) filed; to report the number of stays or disciplinary actions negotiated with agencies, and the number of cases for which it does not make any determinations regarding the validity of the PPP allegation; and to submit the number of actions initiated before the MSPB, and of PPP complaints that result in a favorable action for the complainant.
POGO is encouraged to see the codification of these reporting requirements, some of which have been voluntarily reported by OSC in the past few years. Congress is making it much more difficult for a change in leadership to mean a change in transparency at OSC.