Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Office of Special Counsel Needs a Leader

The Office of Special Counsel, the federal agency charged with protecting federal employees from retaliation for whistleblowing, has been without a leader for almost 18 months. This issue deserves more media attention, and it’s good that GovExec is recognizing that. Without a director, the agency has been unable to implement major policy changes or program initiatives, or support upcoming whistleblower protection legislation.

Several Government Accountability Project clients have found success with the OSC. Gabe Bruno, former Federal Aviation Administration Manager of the Orlando Flight Standards District Office, blew the whistle on certain failures of the FAA to promote security. The OSC informed Bruno in 2009 that it found his disclosures revealed a “substantial likelihood that serious safety concerns persist in the management and operation of the certification and management programs at FAA.”

Bogdan Dzakovic was a former leader of the FAA’s counter-terrorism unit ‘Red Team’ which, prior to 9/11, tested aviation security in airports around the world. The security systems failed around 75-90 percent of the time, but the FAA censored any written records of the failures, and banned retesting. After the attacks, the Red Team was grounded. Dzakovic filed a formal whistleblower complaint with the OSC, which eventually ruled in favor of his allegations, stating that the FAA executed its civil aviation security mission in a manner that “was a substantial and specific danger to public safety.”

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