WASHINGTON - October 31 - The U.S. Office of Special Counsel helps virtually no federal whistleblowers, according to the agency’s latest surveys of federal employees who filed retaliation complaints. Perhaps not surprisingly, nearly 90% of federal employees who dealt with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) registered dissatisfaction with the experience in the survey released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Using the Freedom of Information Act, PEER obtained results of OSC’s own poll of federal employees who filed retaliation complaints with the agency during the 2005 Fiscal Year, which show that:
- OSC did not find for a single whistleblower. Of 118 whistleblowers who filed complaints of retaliation only 4 obtained any relief, and then only because “You or OSC settled the matter”;
- Nearly twice as many whistleblowers (7) obtained relief on their own after OSC had dismissed their complaints as obtained relief while their complaints were before OSC, with appeals still pending for another 14 employees; and
- Less than 6% of the respondents reported any degree of satisfaction with the results obtained by OSC while 89% were dissatisfied.
“The Office of Special Counsel is supposed to serve federal whistleblowers but this survey indicates that OSC now specializes in disservice,” stated PEER Executive Jeff Ruch, noting that Congress will consider whether to re-authorize OSC next year. “Why should taxpayers continue funding any agency that produces such resoundingly negative reactions from its customers?”
These survey results have been included in every OSC Annual Report to Congress since 1997. Under the current Special Counsel, Scott Bloch, all such reports have been tardy and have obscured actual results. Thus, even though the 2007 Fiscal Year began a month ago, Bloch has yet to publish his FY 2005 report.
“With poll numbers this abysmal, I’d want to hide them too,” Ruch added. “Unfortunately, the Special Counsel has two years left on a five-year term and cannot be voted out no matter how bad a job he is doing.”
Recent survey results show a dramatic decline in both relief obtained for whistleblowers and in their regard for OSC. For example, in the FY 1997 survey, ten times more employees (45) obtained settlements while their complaints were before OSC than in FY 2005. More than a quarter of that survey’s respondents said they were satisfied with how their cases were handled. Similarly, in the FY 2001 survey, 46 employees reported full or partial resolution of their cases at OSC.
“The track record of the Office of Special Counsel has gone from bad to worse to even worse,” Ruch concluded. “The federal government desperately needs an entirely new approach toward whistleblower protection because our current system is broken beyond all repair.”