Archives for May 2012

KMED: Bill Meyer Discusses Whistleblower Protection with Dan Epstein

Jump to minute 21:00 to hear Dan Epstein discuss whistleblower protection.

Dan Epstein – Bill Meyer Show – May 23, 2012

G Gordon Liddy Discusses Whistleblower Protection with Dan Epstein

Dan Epstein – G Gordon Liddy – May 24, 2012

CoA Challenges Dept. of Energy In Lawsuit Over Burdensome Rulemaking Decision

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Free Beacon: CoA sues Federal Trade Commission over FOIA denials

Read the full story here. Freebeacon

“A government watchdog group has filed a court complaint against the Federal Trade Commission, claiming the agency arbitrarily denied its public records requests while granting those of liberal organizations.

Cause of Action, a non-profit organization that promotes government transparency, filed an injunction for relief Friday in the United States District Court of the District of Columbia, requesting the court to force the agency to disclose records it has so far withheld. Cause of Action filed the complaint after filing three separate Freedom of Information Act requests and sparring with the agency for nearly nine months.

“For an administration that has publicly committed itself to transparency, the Federal Trade Commission’s refusal to produce documents in response to Cause of Action’s several month-long FOIA investigation reeks of arbitrariness,” Cause of Action executive director Dan Epstein said in a statement to the Free Beacon. “As we state in our complaint, the FTC has wrongfully withheld requested agency records and has repeatedly denied our appeals.”

Roll Call: Epstein: Culture Must Protect Fed Whistle-Blowers

Epstein: Culture Must Protect Fed Whistle-Blowers

By Dan Epstein
Special to Roll Call

Hollywood glorifies them, the media lauds them as heroes, and Members of Congress wave bills around asserting to protect them, but are federal whistle-blowers being retaliated against by their own agencies?

The recent General Service Administration and Secret Service scandals have shone a light on the lack of protection for whistle-blowers, despite laws in place that should safeguard them. GSA employees are afraid of retaliation, according to Inspector General Brian Miller. Administrator Jeff Neely threatened that his employees would be “squashed like a bug” if they spoke out against spending abuses.

Yet some insiders are choosing to brave the storm and stand up to the government to expose fraud and waste. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee received calls from agency insiders providing tips for the panel’s probe of the misbehavior of Secret Service agents in Colombia. Numerous federal agency insiders are contacting government watchdogs with information concerning waste, fraud and mismanagement. Are these signs that something is truly rotten in Washington, D.C., or only symbolic of a vain hunt for government carrion?

In the current administration, whistle-blowers should know the policies and procedures in place that offer them protection. As virtually his first act in office, President Barack Obama issued an ethics pledge to all executive branch appointees mandating that, “the head of every executive agency shall, in consultation with the Director of the Office of Government Ethics, establish such rules or procedures … as are necessary or appropriate to ensure that every appointee in the agency signs the pledge upon assuming the appointed office.”

Because of the president’s stated commitment to ethics, Cause of Action asked the Office of Government Ethics to disclose whether the GSA violated the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch.

Neely’s Las Vegas boondoggle was clearly wasteful, but it may also signify something deeply unethical about federal employee conduct.

A system of accountability is only as effective as the employees charged with its use. Cause of Action continues to await disclosure by the Office of Government Ethics of any documents that may reveal violations of ethics rules by the GSA as well as disclosure by the Office of Special Counsel of complaints made against the GSA by current or former employees who were silenced or retaliated against for blowing the whistle.

The president entered office promising to “strengthen whistle-blower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud and abuse of authority in government.”

Although little-known even on Capitol Hill, the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency exists to oversee and evaluate federal agencies in their accountability, including their maintenance of procedures designed to protect federal whistle-blowers. Jeffrey Zients, chairman of the council and acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, has been asked to conduct an agency-wide audit, evaluation and investigation to assess the state of whistle-blower protection within the federal government and respond to those violations of ethical rules and whistle-blower laws that have occurred.

Effective government cannot take place if whistle-blowers are threatened into silence. With the recent scandals that have come to light, it is time to determine whether agencies are committed to protecting whistle-blowers. If the government fails to defend those employees who blow the whistle on waste or fraud, then the government effectively endorses a culture of reckless spending and unaccountability.

As economic growth has slowed in an already economically embattled America, now is the key time to commit to government efficiency. As several Members of Congress recently pointed out, “Cutting the fat and tightening the belt are things that all American families do. It’s wrong if the federal government refuses to do the same.”

Investigating and exposing waste in the government not only has the salutary effect of increasing accountability, but it has a concomitant influence on the government’s culture of spending. While requests were made to 32 federal agencies for records on spending on commemorative coins and awards, one might label gift spending as negligible compared to, say, Department of Defense contracts yielding illegal kickbacks. Conceded, but spending taxpayer dollars on commemorative items reveals just how numb our tax-dollar-funded federal employees have become to the idea of self-stewardship.

Callousness toward wasteful spending and a corresponding vitriol toward whistle-blowers has become epidemic in Washington. A first step to curing Washington of its culture of waste is to treat the illness by promoting and maintaining a culture that protects whistle-blowers. Only then will the president’s ethics pledge avoid what taxpayer-funded commemorative coins have turned out to be: of empty value.

Media Advisory: Whistleblower Conference – Dan Epstein Joins Panel Discussion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                         CONTACT:

Friday, May 18, 2012                                                  Mary Beth Hutchins,  202-507-5887




WHAT: A panel discussion on issues affecting whistleblowers as part of the annual Whistleblower Summit: Civil & Human Rights Conference.

WHEN:       Monday, May 21, 2012,  12:30pm—1:30pm ET

 WHO: Dan Epstein, executive director, Cause of Action will offer insight into the best litigation options for whistleblowers under current law. Cause of Action is a non-partisan organization that uses public advocacy and legal reform tools to ensure greater transparency in government, protect taxpayer interests and promote economic freedom. He will be joining other panel experts from various nonprofits and NGO’s.

 WHERE:    Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Room

226 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510


MORE INFORMATION: The Summit is hosted by Make it Safe Coalition (MISC), an assortment of various public interest/advocacy groups including the Government Accountability Project, the International Association of Whistleblowers, the American Federation of Government Employees, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the Project On Government Oversight, the No FEAR Coalition, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Voices for Corporate Responsibility, and International Brotherhood of Teamsters; which focus on significant areas of public concern and individual rights, such as First Amendment, federal workforce, medical safety, national security, judicial reform, etc. See for more information on the conference.

WPEA under the Spotlight: Disclosure of Scientific Censorship

From MSPB Watch, an insight into the WPEA:

WPEA under the Spotlight: Disclosure of Scientific Censorship


WPEA under the Spotlight is a new running feature that will explore the provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, currently being debated in Congress. This entry covers the disclosure of scientific censorship section of Senate Committee Report No. 112-155, which accompanies S. 743RS.


M. Disclosures of scientific censorship

The Committee has heard concerns that federal employees may be discouraged from, or retaliated against for, disclosing evidence of unlawful or otherwise improper censorship of research, analysis, and other technical information related to scientific research. Although disclosures of such censorship may be protected as a disclosure of a legal violation or of an abuse of authority under the WPA, uncertainty on this specific issue may cause confusion and inhibit disclosure. It is essential that Congress and the public receive accurate data and findings from federal researchers and analysts to inform lawmaking and other public policy decisions.

In order to encourage the reporting of improper censorship, section 110 of S.743 would specifically protect employees who disclose information that the employees reasonably believe is evidence of scientific or technical censorship that may cause gross government waste or mismanagement, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or that violates the law. This definition of protected disclosures is nearly identical to the general definition of protected disclosures that do not relate to censorship. This is intended to make unmistakably clear that employees are protected for disclosing scientific censorship in the same manner as they are protected for making any other disclosure.

Section by Section Analysis

Section 110—Disclosure of Censorship Related to Research, Analysis, or Technical Information

This section clarifies that an employee is protected from reprisal under the WPA for disclosing information that an employee reasonably believes is evidence of censorship related to research, analysis, or technical information that is or will cause gross government waste or mismanagement, an abuse of authority, a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or any violation of law.