Our recent article on the California State University spending of $9 Million to litigate a handful of whistleblower complaints prompted numerous inquires raising new questions on tax payer fraud and waste at both the State level and within Federal Agencies. We are not surprised!
A clear attitude of unethical conduct has emerged that rewards unethical behavior including criminal conduct while dissuading whistleblowers. It’s an upside down world nowadays. As the cartoon suggests, the goal is to shoot the messenger, not the wrongdoer. The epiphany to learn more about government waste and fraud has collided with the news on the GSA scandals. Thus, Whistlewatch.org is receiving requests for info worldwide.
From Wall Street to Main Street we see over and over how few people are willing to blow the whistle primarily because they fear retaliation. This fear psychology is incredibly powerful. So powerful is the fear factor of loosing ones job in the dismal economy, it is keeping people from reporting wrongdoing, at all costs. The employment climate of whistleblower retaliation has infiltrated the lower levels of employment because exposure of wrongful terminations cannot reach the courts unless a person can hire legal counsel. At times, a whistleblower must exhaust their entire retirement fund to pay a lawyer. If the whistleblower does not have the means, they may not be able to hire representation or regain any type of employment. Thus, whistleblowers often become dependent on family, friends and government assistance for health care, food stamps and housing.
However, what is most startling is how the federal government is violating anti-whistleblower retaliation and discrimination laws like a death star. There are very few federal whistleblowers that have been able to compete with the unlimited budget of a federal agency to file a wrongful termination or security clearance challenge. Yet, this same employer of over 2 million also provides whistleblower protection oversight on industry employers.
Our own federal government covers up the wasteful spending of defending litigation cases that are clearly whistleblower retaliation with the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) backing up agency wrongdoing and a lame D.C. Board not granting stay relief even when the whistleblower clearly saved lives.
If there was ever a time to use the phrase “The Fox is Guarding the Hen House”… it’s NOW!
The shocking truth is that the federal government is an unrestrained egregious employment law violator allowing management employees to openly commit violations of federal law. This is not uncommon for any federal agency. Particularly in Region 9 where the GSA flaunted unrestrained spending and silenced whistleblowers ruling with an iron fist. I know this is true because I worked in Region 9 where the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) allowed Regional Administrator Sharon Fujii to withhold oversight monies appropriated by Congress for federal grant programs. Oversight of HHS grantees was non existent for a decade.
One need only read this report of what I reported to know how systemic the problem was and continues to be with management covering up the truth. 20702000.pdf This type of breakdown in ethical leadership shocks the conscience. Whistleblower retaliation appears to be running a very similar course to civil rights law. People are being harmed directly or collaterally everyday because no one wants to be or openly support a whistleblower. Especially a government whistleblower!
Government employees take an oath to protect the public interest. By law they are not allowed to steal from fellow citizens, depriving them of a future. However, government management have created a cult of followers who would rather go along to get along instead of speaking truth to power. This is obvious from the hearings on the GSA. Only one woman, Susan Brita spoke up. Why???
The goal now should be to learn how much it is costing the American people to cover up whistleblower retaliation at the federal level. We begin by asking which federal agencies violated the No Fear Act (NFA), and/or the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) and/or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) anti-whistleblower retaliation and reprisal laws. This task is daunting since there are over 1,300 distinct agencies spread across the three branches of federal government; Executive, Legislative & Judicial.
Nevertheless, the public has right to know how much money is being wasted to harm truth tellers. To start the process of transparency in government, Whistlewatch.org has served the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on ALL operational and staff divisions:
“Pursuant to section 203, of the No Fear Act of 2002, we respectfully request a copy of all No FEAR Act Annual Reports to Congress. This information will be used to inform the public concerning whistleblower rights, violations of law and to further the public interest in federal agency workplace retaliation and discrimination. These reports will be made available to the public, free of charge, at www.whistlewatch.org and to determine the total annual cost to taxpayers for federal whistleblower litigation.
Under the IRS Code, The Brown Center for Public Policy & Whistlewatch.org operates as a 501(c)3, Not for Profit, Public Benefit Corporation registered with the State of California. The information requested qualifies for a waiver of fee charges since it will be primarily used to significantly contribute to public understanding and awareness of the effectiveness or lack there of, of the No Fear Act.”
Additionally, our colleagues at MSBPWatch.net openly asked the following question; “how much does the federal government spend each year to defend itself against whistleblower complaints?“ new-foia-requests-no-fear-reports-to-determine-total-cost-of-federal-whistleblower-defense
The proverbial Pandora’s box on wasteful spending and abuse of authority is now wide open. David Pardo posted the following also serving an expanded Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on the Department of Transportation (DOL). Mr. Pardo lays out the grounds for why we need to obtain the facts.
In 2002, Congress passed the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act), which mandated several things:
- any damages or attorneys’ fees required to be paid to prevailing complainants would come out of agencies’ budgets, rather than the general U.S. Treasury Judgment Fund;
- agencies must report to Congress statistics about discrimination and retaliation complaints;
- these reports must also include the amount of money agencies must pay to complainants who prevail, including attorneys’ fees;
- and agencies must post online statistics (but not money paid) in connection with equal employment opportunity discrimination complaints.
Recently, fellow advocate site whistlewatch.org highlighted a report that the California State University spent $9 million to defend itself against seven whistleblower suits since 2008. This triggered an inquiry: how much does the federal government spend each year to defend itself against whistleblower complaints?
The dollar amount is surprisingly difficult to ascertain. Because the law does not require agencies to post this information online, it must be FOIA’ed. In addition, the No FEAR Act applies to “federal agencies,” which includes the 15 executive departments and numerous independent agencies. There are also untold number of agencies within the departments, but it is unclear at this point if department-level reports contain statistics for their subordinate agencies. (DOT’s 2010 report, which is also available here, does not cover its agencies FAA, FTA, FRA, etc.)
To that end, I have begun with two agencies and one department:
- MSPB FOIA No. 2012-04-019: MSPB’s No FEAR Act Annual Reports to Congress, for 2009 to present, as required under section 203 of Pub. L. 101-474.
- FAA FOIA No. : FAA’s No FEAR Act Annual Reports to Congress, for 2009 to present, as required under section 203 of Pub. L. 101-474.
- DOT FOIA No. : DOT’s No FEAR Act Annual Reports to Congress, since 2002 but excluding 2010, as required under section 203 of the No FEAR Act of 2002.
*Whistlewatch.org has an outstanding FOIA request to DHHS that was filed in November 2011. DHHS has stated there are over 1,000 documents and promised to deliver by February 15, 2012. However, after the deadline passed, DHHS made excuses. Should DHHS or any federal agency continue to thwart efforts to obtain information through FOIA, we shall seek the assistance of Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) ogis.archives.gov and file suit.