The OSC is evaluating new allegations of retaliatory surveillance of communications between FDA whistleblowers and government oversight bodies such as OSC, Equal Opportunity Commission and Offices of Inspector General.
Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner expressed concern tha, “monitoring employee emails with OSC or Congress could dissuade employees from making important disclosures.”
Stephen M. Kohn, NWC Executive Director and attorney for six FDA whistleblowers, said:
The OSC’s new and expanded investigation into the FDA’s program of targeting whistleblowers for surveillance is a major step forward. The FDA was caught red-handed, but we fear that this same type of targeted surveillance is going on in other federal agencies.
The OSC has the power to hold the managers who illegally spied on whistleblowers accountable. The OSC also has the power to ensure that all federal agencies cease intercepting confidential communications to Inspectors General, OSC and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and that they explicitly inform employees about their rights as whistleblowers. So, we are happy to see the OSC become actively involved in this critical issue.
The House and Senate investigations were sparked by a lawsuit filed by six FDA whistleblowers and documents released by the National Whistleblowers Center that show the FDA intercepted personal communications to Congress, including emails to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
The NWC issued an Action Alert strongly encouraging the public to send emails to the President, FDA officials, and members of Congress demanding that the six whistleblowers be protected and targeted surveillance be halted throughout the federal government.