Obama should end delay in appointing new federal whistleblower rights protection official

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Fifteen months into this administration, the White House has yet to nominate someone to head the Office of Special Counsel, an independent oversight agency charged with protecting federal employees from prohibited personnel practices, including retaliation for whistleblowing. It has now been 18 months since the disastrous Bush appointee Scott Bloch was forced out of the position.

Government Executive reported on April 8 (excerpt): 

Whistleblower protection agency stuck in neutral

By Robert Brodsky

In his first year-plus in office, President Obama has spoken frequently about improving conditions for federal employees, strengthening the rights of whistleblowers and making government “cool” again. But some suggest the administration might be missing out on a vital avenue to implement federal policy reforms. …

“It is imperative for the administration to put someone in place” at OSC, said Timothy Hannapel, who served as deputy special counsel during the Clinton administration and is now national counsel for the National Treasury Employees Union. “Accountability and transparency is what OSC is all about. They could be an invaluable ally for this administration.“…

The White House did not respond to repeated requests for comment. OSC also declined to comment for this story. …

Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, a federal watchdog group, said the absence of a special counsel has been particularly damaging for advocates fighting for comprehensive whistleblower protection legislation. “We need a win for whistleblowers,” Brian said, “and we have not had one.” …

And once the President gets around to naming someone to head the Office of Special Counsel, if the nomination is challenged by Senate opponents, here’s hoping he will do more to stand up for what he purports to believe in than he did in letting the nomination of Dawn Johnsen to head the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel go down without a real fight, or at least a recess appointment. See:

Dawn E. Johnsen withdraws bid for confirmation to Justice Dept. post (Associated Press, April 10)

The death of Dawn Johnsen’s nomination (Glenn Greenwald in Salon, April 9)

Earlier CSW post:
Good riddance to Special Counsel Scott Bloch: Enemy of whistleblowers forced out of office (October 24, 2008)

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