FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

February 16, 2021

Government Accountability Project Applauds Another U.S. Office of Special Counsel
Finding “Substantial Likelihood” of Wrongdoing by
Trump Administration Officials at Voice of America Overseer

 Officials Paid Private Law Firm $2 Million to Investigate Agency Employees

WASHINGTON — Government Accountability Project has filed multiple whistleblower complaints with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) concerning alleged misconduct by the now former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), Michael Pack, who oversees Voice of America (VOA). Pack, a Trump appointee, resigned less than two hours after President Biden’s inauguration.

One whistleblower complaint, submitted on January 19, 2021 on behalf of individuals who wished to remain anonymous, disclosed that USAGM had paid at least $2 million over the preceding three months to a large law firm, McGuireWoods, to investigate current and former employees of USAGM. The complaint elaborated:

The amounts spent [as of January 19, 2021] are extraordinary. At minimum, the payments are a gross waste of government resources. The work performed by McGuireWoods – thousands of hours of attorney and support staff time over three months at rates exceeding $700 per hour – related to personnel and audit matters handled by federal agencies in the ordinary course of their business.

A copy of the complaint is attached as an exhibit here.

Today, OSC informed Government Accountability Project it had reviewed the allegations and, following its independent assessment, determined there was a substantial likelihood of wrongdoing related to the payments to the law firm. OSC notified USAGM and ordered the head of the agency to investigate and report back in writing to OSC within 60 days, as required by statute.

This is the second substantial likelihood of wrongdoing directive OSC has given USAGM based on a Government Accountability Project whistleblower complaint (the first directive issued on December 2, 2020).

OSC findings of “substantial likelihood” are notable and rare. OSC explains on its website that “[t]o meet the substantial likelihood threshold there must be a significant probability that the information reveals wrongdoing that falls within one or more of [the five] categories. In its evaluation, OSC considers the strength, reliability, and credibility of the disclosures.”[1] (Emphasis in the original). For the past few years, OSC has received nearly 6,000 new filings per year from federal employees either identifying wrongdoing or seeking relief from retaliation or other prohibited personnel practices.[2]

In Government Accountability Project’s January 19, 2021 complaint letter to OSC, Senior Counsel David Z. Seide wrote:

“This waste of government resources is shocking. We believe it likely that additional investigation will further reveal violations of law, rule and regulation, abuse of authority and gross mismanagement.”

 

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Contact: Andrew Harman, Government Accountability Project Communications Director
andrewh@whistleblower.org
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.

 

[1] What Happens When an Employee Files a Dislosure Claim?, available at https://osc.gov/Services/Pages/DU-Process.aspx.

 

[2] Testimony of Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner Before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (June 25 2019), available at https://www.congress.gov/116/meeting/house/109683/witnesses/HHRG-116-VR08-Wstate-KernerH-20190625.pdf.