On Tuesday, Senator Charles Grassley asked the Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration to clarify the Agency’s position on the rights of employees to communicate with Congress and the Inspector General. Grassley was responding to a memo issued last week that warned FDA employees about releasing information.
In the letter, Grassley stated, ““Federal laws protect whistleblowers and allow people who work in the federal bureaucracy to discuss what’s happening inside an agency with other officials. Attempts to silence whistleblowers are illegal. If the memo sent last week was intended to have a chilling effect on FDA employees who want to speak up about problems, then that memo is contrary to the President’s call for open and transparent government, and the Acting Commissioner needs to set the record straight.”
We applaud Senator Grassley’s continued commitment to protecting federal employees and hope other Senators follow his lead. All federal employees, including FDA employees, need adequate whistleblower protection.
To read the Senator Grassley’s letter click here.
Two former Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MNOSHA) inspectors, Terry Swanson and Douglas Crosby, testified before the Minnesota Senate that the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry engaged in a number of fraudulent activities since 2006. Swanson and Crosby reported that changes were made to final OSHA inspection reports even after the OSHA inspector signed the report and that documents have been removed from inspection files. They also testified that inspectors have been pressured to not find violations against MNSTAR companies or issue citations to them. MNSTAR companies are companies that MNOSHA recognizes for having labor/management safety committees that go beyond MNOSHA compliance standards.
Back in 1993, world renowned FBI scientist Dr. Frederic Whitehurst (pictured right) brought to light astonishing deficiencies and scientific fraud at the FBI Crime Lab. These allegations would lead to a massive reform of forensic science at the FBI. The FBI labs were just the beginning, and since that time, Dr. Whitehurst, as director of the National Whistleblowers Center's Forensic Justice Project, has been a vocal advocate for reforms nationwide. In 2007, his work was highlighted in a 60 Minutes/Washington Post Special Investigation, and Congress took action to force the review of the cases of thousands of criminal defendants who had been convicted on potentially tainted bullet-lead evidence.
A new study by the National Academy of Sciences has put forensic science and crime laboratories back in the news, and not in a good way. The two-year congressionally funded report, issued February 18th, details the need for reform in our nation's forensic science programs. Specifically, it calls for an independent oversight organization called the National Institute of Forensic Science. Among other deficiencies, the report finds:
- hundreds of thousands of backlogged an delayed requests for analysis
- understaffing at 80% of the nation's crime labs.
- a lack of certification and accreditation standards leading to inconsistencies between federal, state, local governments.
- hundreds of convictions have been based on flawed science
These findings are extremely troubling, and we are happy that Congress took the initiative to fund this study. Now the New York Times is reporting that the Senate Judiciary Committee is planning to hold hearings on this report, and we believe that there would be no one better to testify on these issues than Dr. Whitehurst.