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A Reinvigorated Office of Special Counsel?

This month's grim results of investigations into the Air Force's mishandling of deceased soldiers' remains at Dover Air Force Base has brought some fresh visibility to the Office of Special Counsel.

The independent agency that was beset by scandal in the final years of the George W. Bush administration won praise for filling in what some saw as gaps in the Air Force inspector general's own work on the incident. It laid them out in a Nov. 8 letter to President Obama.

"The Air Force was tasked by the Department of Defense to investigate the allegations, and they spent a great deal of time and a great deal of effort on it," Ann O'Hanlon, an OSC spokesman, told the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight. "But there were pieces of their investigation -- which we made very public -- that we didn't think went far enough. Specifically, the disciplinary actions taken against the three men that were responsible."

POGO's director of investigations, Nick Schwellenbach, noted other recent moves by OSC to protect whistleblowers and commented, "The OSC seems to be getting more aggressive and confident in shining a public light on agency failings."