Final Report Confirms Misconduct at Bush-Era Office of Special Counsel

FBI agents removed boxes from the Office of the Special Counsel Scott Bloch in downtown Washington after a subpoena search of Bloch's office in 2008. FBI agents removed boxes from the Office of the Special Counsel Scott Bloch in downtown Washington after a subpoena search of Bloch's office in 2008. J. Scott Applewhite/AP file photo

Nonprofit accountability groups that were party to a whistleblower complaint against former Special Counsel Scott Bloch for prohibited workplace practices during the George W. Bush administration hailed the release on Wednesday of an inspector general’s report largely confirming their charges.

Bloch, who in 2011 was sentenced to probation and a day in jail for withholding information from Congress, was the subject of complaints going back to 2005 that he reassigned workers from the Washington office to Detroit because he disapproved of gay employees.

The new report, prepared by Office of Personnel Management Inspector General Patrick McFarland because the Bush White House sought to avoid appearance of a conflict of interest, concluded that Bloch’s moves “were motivated by anti-gay animus” and that the reassignments were “apparently designed to target the removal” of these employees, “without regard to the operational needs of the agency.”

The IG report confirmed that Bloch, who resigned in 2008, purged gay OSC employees through a reorganization on grounds that he had a "license" to "ship [them] out." It said he hired managers based on a “buddy system,” and none of those hires “possessed qualifications relevant to the position received." The IG found he engaged in widespread violations of merit system rules for federal hiring.

The report rejected allegations of illegal gag orders. It dealt with whistleblower issues and workplace rights, and not with the criminal charges against Bloch, which included destroying government evidence by calling in a private technology service to wipe documents from his office computer.

The current Office of Special Counsel, run by Carolyn Lerner, released the report and noted that OSC earlier this year reached a settlement on the case with the employees and the Government Accountability Project, the Human Rights Campaign, the Project on Government Oversight and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

GAP Legal Director Tom Devine welcomed the report, saying: “Bloch personifies the same abuses of power his office was charged with guarding against. He nearly destroyed the Office of Special Counsel, and another appointee like him may well have finished off the merit system.” Devine praised incumbent special counsel Lerner for having “made a 180 degree about-face, reversing Mr. Bloch’s misconduct.”

Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, said in a statement, “The rights of federal workers should never be subject to the prejudices of political appointees. This was a case study of how bad things can get when an inappropriate person is given the responsibility of heading up a federal agency. …That said, it should not have taken a full decade for the truth to be known.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

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

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

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