U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES
MARTIN ANDERSENíS SELECTION AS RECIPIENT OF SPECIAL COUNSELíS PUBLIC SERVANT AWARD, AND SETTLEMENT OF HIS PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICE COMPLAINT AGAINST THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 7/16/01
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced its selection of Mr. Martin Edwin Andersen, a former manager with the Department of Justice (DOJ), as the second recipient of the Special Counselís Public Servant Award. The Special Counsel provided the award in recognition of the important whistleblower disclosures that he made during his tenure with DOJís overseas training program. OSC also announced the settlement of Mr. Andersenís prohibited personnel practice complaint against DOJ, which alleged that DOJ failed to renew his two-year term appointment in reprisal for his filing of an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint. OSCís investigation did not conclude that the failure to renew the term appointment was related to Mr. Andersenís whistleblowing.
Between September of 1995 and September of 1997, Mr. Andersen held a term appointment as a Program Manager within DOJís International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) and later the Office of Professional Development and Training (OPDAT). During his tenure, Mr. Andersen made disclosures that concerned serious security violations within ICITAP. Mr. Andersenís disclosures were ultimately substantiated by DOJís Inspector General.
Specifically, Mr. Andersen disclosed to DOJís Director of Security as well as DOJís Office of Inspector General (OIG) that managers within ICITAP failed to follow or enforce security regulations and that unauthorized individuals had been granted access to highly classified information. Mr. Andersenís disclosures resulted in the immediate suspension of security clearances of several senior management officials and a widespread investigation of security by the OIG.
The OIG report on its investigation, issued in September 2000, concluded that ICITAP officials engaged in recurrent and persistent security violations that could have led to the compromise of top-secret information. The OIG recommended continuing high-level supervisory meetings between the DOJ and the Department of State to address security issues and training needs at ICITAP, including training for handling classified information, as well as compliance with travel regulations, ethics issues and restrictions on hiring former employees as ICITAP contractors.
Special Counsel Kaplan observed that, ďAs a term employee, Mr. Andersen placed himself at substantial risk by disclosing security violations by ICITAP officials. His disclosures involved significant national security interests and were substantiated. For these reasons, we believe that it is appropriate to recognize Mr. Andersenís contributions to the public interest with OSCís Public Servant Award.Ē
Andersen's attorney, Government Accountability Project (GAP) Legal Director Tom Devine, stated, "the IGís investigation and findings, and the Special Counselís presentation of the Public Servant Award to Mr. Andersen are a good rebuttal to cynicism. Whistleblowers and government watchdogs teamed up to make a difference.Ē
In addition to announcing the award, OSC also announced the settlement of a prohibited personnel practice complaint Mr. Andersen had filed against DOJ, in which he alleged that his term appointment was not renewed for retaliatory reasons. OSCís investigation did not conclude that the failure to renew the term appointment was related to Mr. Andersenís whistleblowing. It did, however, uncover reasonable grounds to believe that the decision was related to an EEO complaint that he had filed shortly after he began his term appointment.
Mr. Andersenís term appointment of two years began in September of 1995. In November of 1995, Andersen filed an EEO complaint, alleging that as a result of sexual harassment he had been offered an appointment at a lower step in the government pay scale than he should have received. The complaint was informally resolved under a settlement that gave Andersen back pay and a retroactive promotion.
Several months after the settlement was entered, however, a former DOJ Executive Administrative Officer determined that Andersenís term appointment would not be renewed when it expired in September of 1997. OSCís investigation into Mr. Andersenís allegations of retaliation found reasonable grounds to believe that the decision not to renew his appointment was made in reprisal for his EEO complaint. Accordingly, OSC requested that DOJ voluntarily provide corrective relief to Mr. Andersen.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, under which DOJ admits no liability or fault, Mr. Andersen will receive a lump sum payment of $87,500, as well as other non-monetary relief. This monetary settlement is in addition to an earlier award of interim relief for Mr. Andersen, covering an eleven-month period between 1998 and 1999 when OSC obtained a stay on his behalf with the Merit Systems Protection Board.
With respect to Mr. Andersenís complaint of EEO retaliation, Special Counsel Kaplan expressed her ďappreciation to DOJ, for its cooperation and willingness to settle the complaint without the need for litigation.Ē
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency whose basic mission is to guard against prohibited personnel practices, with special emphasis on protecting government whistleblowers.
Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan established the Special Counselís Public Servant Award Program in March 2001. The award was established to recognize the contributions that federal employees make to the public interest when -- often at great personal risk -- they make significant disclosures of violations of law, rule, or regulation; gross mismanagement; a gross waste of funds; a serious abuse of official authority; or a specific and substantial danger to the public health and safety.