March 4, 2021

Whistleblowers Report Alarming Details on Payments for Investigation of Federal Employees Made to Law Firm by Voice of America’s Parent Agency

Part 1 of materials produced today show, over only three months, McGuireWoods billed over 3,000 hours at an average rate of over $320 per hour, reaching a total of over $1 million.

WASHINGTON — Today, Government Accountability Project, on behalf of anonymous whistleblowers, alerted Congress and federal whistleblower agencies to additional details concerning payment obligations constituting gross waste by the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), the parent agency of Voice of America (VOA), to a large law firm McGuireWoods for the investigation of USAGM employees.

In August 2020, Michael Pack, the former head of USAGM (he was forced to resign within two hours of President Biden’s inauguration), signed a contract for McGuireWoods to conduct internal USAGM investigations. For the three months, from August through October, McGuireWoods billed $1.042 million. According to the analysis prepared in a letter from Government Accountability Project, that figure is based on a total of 3,224 hours billed by approximately 50 partners, attorneys, staff, and contractors, which averages out at over $320 per hour for each individual biller.

The information includes monthly law firm invoices that were produced today by USAGM in response to the Government Accountability Project’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. USAGM posted the information on its FOIA website here.

Government Accountability Project’s letter also alerted government investigators to other problematic issues:

  • Given the high volume of activity shown on the invoice for the month of October alone ($687,814.20 based on 2,315.3 hours), it is likely that McGuireWoods invoices yet to be produced by USAGM will likely reveal that total fees charged by McGuireWoods were hundreds of thousands of dollars higher;
  • The McGuireWoods invoices were not addressed to Mr. Pack, but rather to Sam Dewey, a Pack political appointee, who played no role in budgeting or accounting issues; and
  • There was no adequate justification to support awarding McGuireWoods a sole source contract.

In its letter, Government Accountability Project Senior Counsel David Seide wrote:

“Mr. Pack and his enablers sought to evade oversight and controls to further a partisan agenda devoid of public benefit. In so doing, they are guilty of gross mismanagement, gross waste of taxpayer dollars, abuse of authority and violations of law, rule and regulation. We urge you to continue to investigate.”

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Contact: Andrew Harman, Government Accountability Project Communications Director
Phone: 202.926.3304

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.