The nonpartisan government accountability group Cause of Action has asked the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget to perform a government-wide audit to determine whether agencies are abiding by whistleblower protection laws.
The request comes after revelations that employees of the General Services Administration’s Pacific Rim region felt threatened by an acting regional administrator for voicing concerns over excessive spending. The region organized a 2010 Las Vegas training conference that cost more than $800,000 and has become a target of ridicule and investigation.
GSA Inspector General Brian Miller told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week of the alleged threats by Jeffrey E. Neely, the GSA acting regional administrator. Miller also disclosed the information at a hearing before a subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Neely was placed on administrative leave after an inspector general’s report faulted him for organizing the conference.
“IG Miller claimed GSA employees were afraid of retaliation, and according to Miller, Jeff Neely, the [Pacific Rim region] administrator, ‘squashed’ agency whistleblowers ‘like a bug,’ ” Daniel Epstein, executive director of Cause of Action, wrote in a letter to Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the OMB and executive chairman of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
In another letter, sent Thursday, Epstein asked the Office of Government Ethics to disclose information on the GSA’s compliance with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, a single, government-wide standard established in 1989.
Epstein also wrote the U.S. Office of Special Counsel and asked it to disclose any whistleblower complaints made against the GSA by current or former employees.