Dumpster fire confirmed: IG describes dysfunctional VA whistleblower program

The clamor continues for the intelligence community whistleblower to come forward. But, the Democrats now say they’re corroborated everything in the initial whistleblower report and may not have to interview him or her. The whistleblower’s lawyers agree.

President Trump created the office via executive order.

For some, the case raises questions: Why do whistleblowers need to remain anonymous? Why don’t they use internal reporting programs instead of going to the press or a lawyer with information about wrongdoing?

Consider the headline in the Mother Jones story on Thursday’s report from the Veterans Affairs Inspector General.

IG Says VA Whistleblower Office Mostly Screwed Whistleblowers

One whistleblower described the office as a “Dumpster fire.” He was one of a parade of VA employees who brought their complaints to Congress and the press over the past year. One got a pink slip the day before she testified.

Both ProPublica and NPR have been on this story.

From Pro Publica:

In a blistering report released Thursday, the VA’s inspector general said the department’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection investigated things it shouldn’t have, didn’t investigate things it was required to and bungled the investigations it did do. It also misspent funds…

 The report faults the office for lacking any written policies or adequate training, contributing to its “failure to consistently conduct investigations that were procedurally sound, accurate, thorough, and unbiased.” The investigations were marred by missing documents, inaccurate timelines and the failure to interview corroborating witnesses.

“In many instances, they focused only on finding evidence sufficient to substantiate the allegations without attempting to find potentially exculpatory or contradictory evidence,” the report said.

From the NPR story.

In its first two years the whistle blower office was operational, the office “floundered in its mission to protect whistleblowers,” in part by creating “an office culture that was sometimes alienating to the very individuals it was meant to protect,” the report states.

An NPR investigation published last year revealed how VA whistleblowers confronted an entrenched management culture that routinely used fear and intimidation to prevent potential whistleblowers from talking.

The 91-page document released Thursday adds new detail to problemdescribing poor leadership, lackluster training and investigations that undercut the confidence of whistleblowers who attempted to clean up the agency.

Staffer at the whistleblower office sought out The Project on Government Accountability to complain about one of those lackluster trainings.

Insiders who spoke to POGO described an office in disarray, with the expensive, hastily planned, and ineffective training as the latest symptom of poor management.

“There wasn’t anything in the training that was remotely relevant or useful,” one attendee told POGO. It was “like nothing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in government for 20 years,” another said.

The program reportedly cost $300,000.

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