Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Now It's the FDA That's the 'Gestapo'

The actual Gestapo searches a German couple. The actual Gestapo searches a German couple. Wikipedia Commons
For months now, the Food and Drug Administration has been under investigation for monitoring the communications of some of its employees. The agency swears it was just looking into the possibility that some of its scientists had leaked confidential information about the safety of medical devices. Advocates for the scientists say this is a case of whistleblower retaliation against employees who had exposed flaws in the medical review process.

This weekend, The New York Times reported that the probe has gotten more complicated because some of the communications FDA officials reviewed involved exchanges with members of Congress and journalists. And those communications ended up being inadvertently posted on the Web.

The notion that the FDA had kept files on lawmakers documenting their interactions with the scientists, not surprisingly, has sent some senators and congressmen around the bend. 

FDA officials “have absolutely no business reading the private e-mails of their employees," Sen. Charles S. Grassley, R-Iowa, told the Times. They think they can be the Gestapo and do anything they want.”

There are plenty of people who agree with Grassley that the FDA overstepped here. But maybe it's time to declare a moratorium on Gestapo references when it comes to federal agencies -- if for no other reason than they're getting a little stale. How about at least spicing it up by throwing around  "KGB" or "Stasi" now and then? 

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.