FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 18, 2021
Whistleblowers Reveal More Alarming Details About Law Firm Contracts Awarded by Voice of America Overseer to Investigate Federal Employees
New Documents Show that McGuireWoods and Caplin & Drysdale Billed Federal Agency $1.7 Million—Gross Waste and Abuse of Authority According to Whistleblowers
WASHINGTON – Today, Government Accountability Project, on behalf of anonymous whistleblowers, alerted Congress and federal whistleblower agencies to new details about sole source, no bid contracts awarded to two law firms by Michael Pack to investigate the employees at the agency he headed, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). USAGM is the parent agency of Voice of America (VOA). Until ordered to resign by President Biden on Inauguration Day, Mr. Pack—a Trump administration political appointee—was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of USAGM.
Mr. Pack was a very controversial CEO. He retaliated against numerous USAGM employees who stepped forward as whistleblowers to report misconduct—including gross waste, abuse of authority, and violations of law. Retaliation included placing career federal employees on indefinite administrative leave and then commencing administrative proceedings to fire them. Government Accountability Project represented over 30 USAGM and VOA employees victimized by Mr. Pack.
Mr. Pack had a problem: in almost all cases there was no evidence to justify firing employees. His “solution” was to hire two large law firms, McGuireWoods and Caplin & Drysdale. Among other matters, they were tasked with finding evidence and other materials to use against the targeted employees as well the Open Technology Fund, a USAGM grant recipient. The targeted employees were reinstated within days of Mr. Pack’s removal.
After alerting the Congress and the federal whistleblower agencies (the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG) to Mr. Pack’s misconduct, Government Accountability Project used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain additional details about the sole source, no-bid law firm contracts.
Yesterday, USAGM published some of these details on its FOIA website, available here. Government Accountability Project promptly reviewed the material and today sent a supplemental analysis, its second, to Congress, OSC, and OIG.
Among its findings:
- The total value of all services rendered by McGuireWoods and Caplin & Drysdale (billed and unbilled) was approximately $1.776 million.
- Over four months, McGuireWoods billed approximately $1.625 million in fees and disbursements based on 5,093 billable hours, an average of approximately $320 for each billable hour.
- The three activities responsible for over 90 percent of McGuireWoods’ billable hours were: “Document Production” (2,998.10 hours); “Analysis/Strategy” (1,053.40 hours); and “Fact Investigation/Development” (655.80 hours).
- Over four months, Caplin & Drysdale billed approximately $66,000 in fees and disbursements based on 84.4 billable hours, an average of over $780 for each billable hour.
In its letter, Government Accountability Project Senior Counsel David Seide wrote:
“This new data further attests to Michael Pack’s—and those who helped him—gross mismanagement, gross waste of taxpayer dollars, abuse of authority and violations of law, rule and regulation. First, there was no need for the services rendered … Second, even if the services rendered could be justified (they cannot) they could have been provided by multiple federal agencies for free. Finally, even assuming outside help was needed (it was not), the cost to taxpayers would have been far lower had the usual federal contract bidding process been followed.”
A copy of the letter can be found here.
Contact: Andrew Harman, Government Accountability Project Communications Director
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.