Washington, DC — For the first time, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency that is supposed to protect whistleblowers and enforce merit rules in the federal civil service, is declining to identify the number of cases where it obtained a favorable outcome. Consequently, it is impossible to tell if anyone is being helped by the agency, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which is calling attention to the discrepancy in the agency’s latest report that was filed last week.
Ironically, the OSC report for Fiscal Year 2005 was compiled pursuant to the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 but it omits the key measure of its results. The stated rationale for this omission is also puzzling:
“In order to avoid presupposition of the existence of violations, and to eliminate the possibility of creating bias toward prosecuting non-meritorious cases, quantified goals concerning Favorable Actions are not used.”
“This is like a district attorney refusing to say what his conviction rate is for fear of creating bias against criminals,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization has been critical of the track record of the Bush-appointed Special Counsel Scott Bloch. “Amazingly, Bloch’s 77-page report on his results in the previous year contains almost zero substantive information about what he accomplished.”
Prior OSC reports listed the number of favorable actions, such as re-instatement or reversal of a disciplinary action, including the percentage obtained in whistleblower cases. The numbers of favorable outcomes for complainants, however, showed a dramatic drop-off under Bloch during his first year and are not reported at all in the latest report covering Bloch’s second year in office:
- In 2002, OSC achieved “126 favorable actions, including 13 disciplinary actions [against officials who were found to have taken illegal personnel actions];”
- In 2003, OSC reported “115 favorable actions (including 12 disciplinary actions)”; and
- In 2004, Bloch’s first year, OSC reached only “68 favorable actions” including only 10 disciplinary actions.
“Given his disastrous trend, no wonder Scott Bloch wants to stop releasing actual numbers,” Ruch added, pointing to record numbers of federal employees who are blowing the whistle since George W. Bush became president but with diminishing results produced by the Office of Special Counsel in these cases.
Bloch has also stopped reporting numbers for successful mediation outcomes. Last year, Bloch forced the head of the highly-regarded Mediation Unit to resign to avoid a forced relocation to an office in Detroit that Bloch attempted to create. The Detroit office fiasco is just one of several Bloch missteps that are part of a retaliation complaint filed by remaining OSC employees against Bloch.
The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (also known as GPRA) was a Newt Gingrich-era “reform” that was supposed to hold “federal agency agencies accountable for achieving program results,” according to its preamble. In reality, the annual reports have become meaningless paper exercises that are rarely used in the shrinking number of Congressional oversight hearings.
“As Scott Bloch has proven, an agency can file a tuna sandwich as its GPRA report and nothing will happen,” Ruch concluded.