We were just finishing an application to run the Labor Department’s Whistleblower Protection Program — the first day for applications was March 13 — when we noticed a March 1 department announcement that indicated the position might have been filled.
It’s not an easy job, entailing oversight of 21 whistleblower laws that protect 200 million people working in industries such car manufacturing, airlines, railroads, pipelines, consumer products, health care and food safety.
And the program has been repeatedly and roundly criticized as ineffective, mismanaged and under-resourced by the Labor Department inspector general, the Government Accountability Office and advocacy groups.
The groups have urged that the program, now within the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, be made an independent entity with a much bigger investigative capacity.
The department’s March 1 announcement said that the program, to be run by Sandra Dillon, who had been the acting director, would stay within OSHA but would now “report directly” to Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels, who runs OSHA.
The whistleblower program is also being organized into a new directorate, we were told, at which point a new, higher-level official will be needed to run it. Ah, so they are two separate jobs. Excellent.
Whistleblower protection groups apparently weren’t impressed with the reorganization.
“It’s like shuffling bureaucratic deck chairs on a sinking ship,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of the whistleblower group Public Employees for Environment Responsibility.
Hmm. That’s not encouraging. But did we mention the new job pays up to $180,000 a year and boasts a “great benefits package?”