The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is pleased to announce the appointment of Nick Schwellenbach as POGO Director of Investigations, a position he previously held before going into government service.
On his return to POGO, Nick Schwellenbach said:
“My top priority is overseeing hard-hitting investigations that have strategic impact on issues that matter. I’m thrilled to be back at POGO, whose long-standing focus on functioning checks and balances will be our North Star, guiding our investigative and advocacy priorities.
Our investigations will always be guided by facts, never by politics. We all have a vested stake in the transparency, accountability, and effectiveness of the federal government. Whistleblowers and other insiders are key to piercing the veil of government secrecy that can conceal critical information from the public.”
Before rejoining POGO, Nick spent three years as Communications Director at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a federal agency charged with protecting most of the federal workforce from whistleblower retaliation and providing a secure channel for disclosures.
His tenure coincided with the most productive period in OSC’s history. Nick’s work helped the agency achieve significant reforms throughout the government, especially at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by shining a spotlight on whistleblower disclosures of health and safety risks.
Before that, Nick worked as a senior fiscal policy analyst at the Center for Effective Government (CEG), specializing on the federal sector’s impact on job creation and the fiscal impacts of excessive outsourcing of government. During this time, Nick also wrote a report for POGO on excessive secrecy covering up serious misconduct by Justice Department attorneys. This report won the Society of Professional Journalists-D.C. Chapter’s Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Award, its highest prize.
From 2010 to 2012, Nick was POGO’s Director of Investigations where he managed and led investigations, such as those the revolving door at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), labor trafficking by American subcontractors in Iraq, and mismanagement of the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 program. He testified before Congress on the Defense Contract Audit Agency and on human trafficking sparking both legislative and executive branch reforms.
While working on his master’s degree in journalism, Nick covered defense for the Center for Public Integrity (CPI). His coverage of the cozy relationships and tight monetary connections between members of Congress, their staffers, and contractors was cited by the Scripps Howard Foundation as a finalist for its Washington Reporting award.
In his first stint at POGO as an investigator, Nick worked on a wide variety of issues. One whistleblower case he identified as having systemic impact worked its way to the US Supreme Court—Department of Homeland Security v. MacLean. It is the first Whistleblower Protection Act case to be heard before the high court. The whistleblower, Robert MacLean, prevailed.