Amid a pending lawsuit and congressional investigation, agencies and private contractors are pointing fingers over who is to blame for making public confidential correspondences from would-be whistleblowers at the Food and Drug Administration, according to The Washington Post.
The emails -- collected as part of an FDA effort to monitor employees who were communicating with the Office of Special Counsel and the agency’s inspector general regarding the medical device review process -- were put on a public website by a third-party contractor.
Quality Associates, a document management company hired to archive more than 80,000 pages of emails from FDA scientists, said it was following the agency’s instructions.
The contractor released its government work order to congressional investigators, which said the documents did not contain classified, sensitive or personal information, despite the names, email addresses and proprietary data about medical devices included in them.
The documents were publicly available online for several days in May before Quality Associates took them down.
FDA said its parent agency, the Health and Human Services Department, is to blame for the mixup.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who initially launched the investigation, wrote a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg asking why the documents were made public, according to the Post.
The six scientists whom FDA monitored starting three years ago filed a lawsuit in January against the agency.