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'

ARCHIVES
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.

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 G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

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