Source: Kerry Hall and Ames Alexander, Charlotte Observer, February 11, 2008
Bob Whitmore is doing what few career government employees dare — publicly criticizing his own agency.
Whitmore, an expert in record-keeping requirements for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said OSHA is allowing employers to vastly underreport the number of injuries and illnesses their workers suffer.
The true rate for some industries — including poultry processors — is likely two to three times higher than government numbers suggest, he said.
Source: Ethics Resource Center, 2008
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From press release:
With employees at all levels of government witnessing a high incidence of ethical misconduct – and with many local and state entities, particularly, failing to establish strong ethics programs – the public sector is at considerable risk of seeing major ethics scandals unfold, the Ethics Resource Center’s National Government Ethics Survey (NGES) shows.
“The next Enron could occur within government,” said ERC President Patricia Harned, Ph.D. “Almost one quarter of public sector employees identify their work environments as conducive to misconduct – places where there is strong pressure to compromise standards, where situations invite wrongdoing and/or employees’ personal values conflict with the values espoused at work. Government – especially at the state and local levels – simply is not doing enough to address the problem.”
The federal government fared slightly better when workers at all three levels were questioned about incidents of misconduct, their reporting of those actions and the existence and quality of programs to enforce ethical standards.
Source: Salon.com and the Center for Investigative Reporting
Every year, hundreds of federal workers sound the alarm about corruption, fraud or dangers to public safety that are caused or overlooked — or even covered up — by U.S. government agencies. These whistle-blowers are supposed to be guaranteed protection by law from retaliation for speaking out in the public’s interest.
But a six-month investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting, in collaboration with Salon, has found that federal whistle-blowers almost never receive legal protection after they take action. Instead, they often face agency managers and White House appointees intent upon silencing them rather than addressing the problems they raise. They are left fighting for their jobs in a special administrative court system, little known to the American public, that is mired in bureaucracy and vulnerable to partisan politics. The CIR/Salon investigation reveals that the whistle-blower system — first created by Congress decades ago and proclaimed as a cornerstone of government transparency and accountability — has in reality enabled the punishment of employees who speak out. It has had a chilling effect, dissuading others from coming forward. The investigation examined nearly 3,600 whistle-blower cases since 1994, and included dozens of interviews and a review of confidential court documents. Whistle-blowers lose their cases, the investigation shows, nearly 97 percent of the time. Most limp away from the experience with their careers, reputations and finances in tatters.
Source: Daniel Schulman, Mother Jones, Vol. 32 no. 3, May/June 2007
A series of court rulings, legal changes, and new security and secrecy policies have made it easier than at any time since the Nixon era to punish whistleblowers; the climate has deteriorated in recent years with the Bush administration’s emphasis plugging leaks and locking down government information.