Oversight committee asks OSC's Bloch to explain deleted files

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Thursday asked Special Counsel Scott Bloch to agree to a transcribed interview with committee staff to explain why he deleted from an office computer files that might have been relevant to an investigation into his conduct.

In a letter, Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and ranking member Tom Davis, R-Va., said they "are interested in gaining understanding of several issues" raised by a report that Bloch in December 2006 had files on his computer and those used by two former aides erased by a private computer help service.

The Office of Personnel Management's inspector general has sought the files for its two-and-one-half-year-old probe into allegations that Bloch, whose office investigates violations of workplace rules at federal agencies, retaliated against whistleblowers who opposed his policies.

Waxman's consent to the request is significant.

Davis for months has accused Bloch of leaking documents and courting the Democratic majority during OSC's investigation of political briefings at federal agencies.

Davis has also blasted a similar probe by committee Democrats.

Last summer, Davis tried to slash OSC's budget and demanded Bloch turn over e-mails related to what Republicans charged was improper use of office e-mail by Bloch. But Waxman did not back the request, leaving Davis unable to force Bloch to comply.

Waxman declined to comment, but a senior Republican committee aide said the chairman agreed to co-sign Thursday's letter because Bloch's recently disclosed actions were "too strange to ignore."

An OSC spokesman said Bloch is considering whether to comply with the request. The committee did not subpoena Bloch, but could do so if he refuses a voluntary interview.

The committee inquiry puts new pressure on Bloch, who in recent days has defended his actions in a radio interview and a letter to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the deletion of Bloch's files.

The letter asks Bloch why he used a private information technology company to perform a "seven-level wipe" on his computer, which makes it nearly impossible to recover data.

Bloch has said he hired the company because he thought his computer had a virus.

The OSC spokesman said Thursday that Bloch initially had his agency's IT staff work on his computer, but later brought in a private company when problems persisted.

The spokesman said Bloch also had the computers of former aides who had departed the agency wiped because the computer technicians arrived at the office while Bloch was not present and were billing the agency for their time.

The spokesman could not explain why Bloch, who has said all the deleted files were personal, used agency funds to pay for the work, which cost $1,149.

Bloch has said he backed up all the files on a portable thumb drive.

But he has refused to agree to a subpoena sent last month by the OPM IG seeking access to the thumb drive and his America Online e-mail account because the files are not relevant to the investigation, the spokesman said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
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.