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 since come under investigation.
GSA Inspector General Brian Miller on Monday told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the threats by Jeffrey E. Neely, the acting administrator. He also disclosed the information at a hearing Tuesday 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,’” Cause of Action’s executive director Daniel Epstein wrote in a letter to Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget and executive chairman of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
In two other letters, sent April 19, Epstein asked the Office of Government Ethics to disclose information on GSA’s compliance with the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, a single government-wide standard established in 1989.
In the second letter, Epstein asked the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to disclose any whistleblower complaints made against GSA by current or former employees.