Developments at the OSC: On December 18, 2013, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) publicly released the report of investigation into various allegations of misconduct against former Special Counsel Scott Bloch. The investigation was conducted by the Inspector General for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM/OIG), due to obvious conflict of interest issues at the OSC. OPM/OIG had held completion of this report at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, pending resolution of the criminal charges against Mr. Bloch, who was only sentenced in July 2013. Mr. Bloch left office in October 2008.
The report of investigation examined no less than 10 allegations against Mr. Bloch, some of which were not substantiated. Several serious charges were found substantiated by OPM/OIG, however, including:
- the allegation that Mr. Bloch violated Executive Order 13087 by trying to reduce OSC enforcement of Prohibited Personnel Practice (PPP) 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(10)–which protects federal employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation–in particular, through removing all references to protections based on sexual orientation from the OSC website (although OPM’s Inspector General declined to issue a finding on whether Mr. Bloch’s actions constituted a refusal to enforce this PPP);
- the allegation that Mr. Bloch engineered the creation of a new OSC field office in Detroit without a substantial business need for this location, and instead for the purpose of creating a dumping ground for transferring homosexual OSC employees and employees deemed to be a ‘negative influence in the office’. The reassignment of employees to this Detroit office was deemed by OPM/OIG to be a possible PPP;
- the allegation that Mr. Bloch engaged in religious discrimination by authorizing early releases for Christian holidays such as Good Friday but not for non-Christian holidays, and by scheduling a management retreat specifically to avoid the Christian Holy Week observances–only to have the retreat fall during the Jewish Passover holiday; and
- the allegation that then-Deputy Special Counsel James Renne gave unauthorized hiring preferences to certain individuals.