Office of Special Counsel finally has new leader

Photo by Peter Krogh
For the first time in three years, the Office of Special Counsel has a permanent leader.

The Senate on Thursday evening confirmed by unanimous consent the nomination of Carolyn Lerner to run the small federal agency charged with investigating allegations of prohibited personnel practices in the civil service. She will serve a five-year term.

Lerner sailed through her confirmation hearing in early March and easily cleared the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee days later.

Lerner is a founding partner of Heller, Huron, Chertkof, Lerner, Simon & Salzman, a Washington law firm that specializes in civil rights and employment matters for both federal and private sector workers.

She inherits an office that has been besieged by credibility problems in recent years. Scott Bloch ran OSC from 2004 through 2008, when he resigned amid a criminal investigation into allegations he used an IT firm to scrub files from his work computer. Bloch was sentenced to one month in prison in March for withholding information from Congress, but he remains free while his attorney appeals that sentence.

Longtime OSC career official William Reukauf has served as acting special counsel since Bloch's departure.

The Senate confirmed a total of 19 executive nominees on Thursday evening, all by unanimous consent, including the controversial choice of Rafael Borras to be undersecretary for management at the Homeland Security Department. Senators on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee were divided over his qualifications and some delinquent taxes.

Boras has been serving in the same role at DHS under a recess appointment for the past year, focusing on evaluating the department's use of contractors and improving its overall acquisition process.

"Mr. Borras has proven himself to be a dedicated and highly capable leader in an incredibly challenging position," said Homeland Security Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. "He brings tremendous energy and experience to bear on the challenges that face the department as it works to become the highly effective and efficient department we need it to be for the security of all Americans."

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