Last Thursday, April 14, 2011, the Senate confirmed Carolyn Lerner as Special Counsel. This post, which investigates and takes positions on federal employee whistleblower allegations, has been vacant for over two years. I reported here last month about her confirmation hearing.
Ms. Lerner has a difficult job ahead of her. Her staff is underfunded, and the law does not give her office all the tools it needs to effectively protect whistleblowers. Notably, her office does not have the power to order federal agencies to reinstated whistleblowers who are wrongly fired.
The previous administrations were notorious for failing to protect whistleblowers, and Ms. Lerner will need to dramatically and quickly change the culture of the Office of Special Counsel. I do not know if the incumbent staff has investigated or prepared any cases that are ready for action. It may take many months for us to see if Ms. Lerner’s leadership can accomplish the kind of improvements we hope for.
The Senate digest reports that the Senate confirmed Ms. Lerner for a term of five (5) years. Ms. Lerner was a founding partner of the Washington, DC, civil rights and employment law firm called Heller, Huron, Chertkof, Lerner, Simon & Salzman. I extend my best wishes to her in this challenging and important office.