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Pentagon whistle-blower work criticized

Feb. 22, 2012 at 11:07 AM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Pentagon delays in investigating whistle-blower complaints from U.S. troops endanger the whistle-blower and hurt anti-waste and fraud work, a report said.

The Government Accountability Office draft report, obtained by USA Today, showed a problem-riddled system that must change if the Defense Department is to make the kind of financial savings needed, the newspaper said Wednesday.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a champion for government whistle-blowers, requested the report.

"The report is damning, but there is cause for hope: The Pentagon office of inspector general has new leadership in charge of reprisal investigations and is revamping their program," said Nick Schwellenbach, director of investigations for the Project on Government Oversight, a non-partisan watchdog group.

The report said the Pentagon missed its 180-day deadline for completing investigations in whistle-blower cases in nearly 70 percent of cases the GAO studied, which may prompt some whistle-blowers to withdraw their complaints.

The report also found only 15 percent of whistle-blowing troops with substantiated claims of retribution got some type of relief, USA Today said.

The draft also found the Pentagon inspector general at one time provided specific recommendations for substantiated claims of retribution, but now the policy is a general recommendation that "appropriate action be taken."

USA Today said neither Grassley nor the GAO responded to a request for comment.

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