Former U.S. Special Council for the Office of Special Council (OSC) Scott Bloch has been charged with criminal contempt of Congress for withholding “pertinent” information from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Bloch, the head of an office designed to protect whistleblowers and enforce anti-discrimination laws, allegedly retaliated against employees and dismissed whistleblower cases without fully investigating them. Bloch resigned in October 2008 amid these allegations, and the office has remained vacant under the Obama administration. See Truthout.org coverage of the Bloch scandal for more information
The National Whistleblowers Center has since called for President Obama to appoint a new Special Council who will protect whistleblowers. In a statement, Stephen Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblowers Center said:
The new (Special Council) appointee must be top notch and must have the background and experience, not only as a proven strong advocate for whistleblowers, but as a tough and aggressive enforcement official…Whistleblowers need a real advocate and a powerful voice within the administration.
The OSC has a duty to fully review legitimate whistleblower claims, and employees should not be retaliated against in an office structured to combat that very behavior within the government. The Office of Special Council has had a highly criticized history, but President Obama can write a new chapter and fulfill his campaign promise to appoint a Special Council who will protect whistleblowers.
The public can help this cause by taking action and sending a letter supporting the appointment of a true whistleblower advocate for Special Council.
*Philip Barrett (NWC Intern) contributed to this post