Doomed from the start.
Often when a government project earns that label, it’s because it was built to fail.
Take for example, what President Donald Trump bragged in 2017 would be one of the “crown jewels” of his “drain-the-swamp” reforms at the Veterans Administration, the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, created to investigate complaints of whistleblower retaliation.
It was a job that needed to be done. The Veterans Administration has long had a reputation as a ruthless retaliator against whistleblowers.
But, critics, including the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) spotted the self-destruct mechanism immediately. Trump’s plan put the Veterans Administration’s Office of Accountability bureaucratically inside the organization it was monitoring. Its bosses were appointed by and reported to some of the bigger bosses that whistleblowers needed protection from.
What has happened, according to whistleblowers inside the whistleblower protection office, is the worst-case scenario those original critics projected. The office hasn’t protected VA whistleblowers against harassment or punishment as zealously as it has protected accused harassers or incompetents from the judgments and recommendations of their own investigators.
And, according to sources who spoke with our guest today, investigative reporter Daniel Van Schooten of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), the self-destructive mission of the OAWP, the Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, has been manifest in more than just its institutional malformation. Over its three years of operation, management of the office has taken a bad situation and consistently made it worse.
Daniel Van Schooten is the initial point of contact for whistleblowers who contact POGO and investigates the oversight of government contracts, especially in the Department of Defense. He also works on issues including conflicts of interest and has contributed to POGO’s blog and letters to policymakers to increase awareness about these issues. He earned a B.A. in International Relations and Economics at Wheaton College.