Government Accountability Project

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Government Accountability Project[1]
GAPlogo.jpg
AbbreviationGAP
TypeNon-profit organization
Purpose/focusThe Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists.
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Websitehttp://www.whistleblower.org/
 
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Government Accountability Project[1]
GAPlogo.jpg
AbbreviationGAP
TypeNon-profit organization
Purpose/focusThe Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists.
HeadquartersWashington, D.C.
Websitehttp://www.whistleblower.org/

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a United States whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating of whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1975 as part of the Institute for Policy Studies,[2] GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization in Washington, D.C. GAP's leadership includes Louis Clark as President, Beatrice Edwards as Executive Director, and Tom Devine as Legal Director.[3]

Mission statement[edit]

GAP is a nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. They pursue this mission through their Nuclear Oversight, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, Environmental Oversight, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.

Organizational Philosophy[edit]

GAP's approach toward advocacy is primarily through the media. According to a February 1990 profile, it utilizes litigation only as a "last resort."[2] Tom Devine, GAP's Legal Director, said "Our job is to win a publicity campaign so that a lawsuit isn't necessary. When you're in a lawsuit, you're fighting a defensive battle .... We like to attack."[2]

Influence[edit]

Several GAP alumni hold prominent positions in agencies that oversee whistleblower issues:

Mark Cohen[edit]

Mark Cohen is the Deputy Special Counsel at the Office of Special Counsel. He was appointed to this position by Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner in 2011.[4] Previously, he served three and a half years as GAP's Executive Director.[5]

Adam Miles[edit]

Adam Miles is the Director of Policy and Congressional Affairs at the Office of Special Counsel.[6] Prior to joining OSC, Adam was on the staff of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and also worked as GAP's Legislative Representative.[7]

Joanne Royce[edit]

Joanne Royce is a member of the Department of Labor Administrative Review Board, which adjudicates private sector whistleblower cases. Royce was appointed to the ARB in July 2010. Previously, she worked for 15 years with GAP as a program director, senior litigator, and finally as General Counsel.[8]

Prominent GAP Clients[edit]

Gary Aguirre[edit]

Gary Aguirre is a former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer who investigated a politically sensitive insider trading case involving Pequot Capital Management. At first, his supervisors had supported his inquiry. But when he sought to subpoena the CEO of Morgan Stanley, John Mack, who had briefly served as chairman of Pequot, Aguirre’s supervisors refused to allow him to issue the subpoena, claiming that it would be difficult because of Mack’s powerful “political connections.” Aguirre was then fired, only eleven days after he had received a two-step pay raise and his supervisor had praised his work on the Pequot investigation.[9]

Aubrey Blumsohn[edit]

Dr. Blumsohn was a senior medical faculty member specializing in bone health at Sheffield University in England. In 2002, he agreed to conduct research for Procter & Gamble (P&G) to determine how the osteoporosis drug Actonel prevents bone fractures. He collected data but was prevented from analyzing his findings by P&G. In 2004, P&G allowed Blumsohn to review what the company purported to be the actual data set. In reviewing the data, Blumsohn realized that numerous graphs (illustrating Actonel’s effectiveness in preventing bone fractures) omitted 40 percent of a data set, apparently manipulating results to suit P&G’s marketing objectives. P&G officials told Blumsohn that if these additional data were included in the results, the study would have favored a competitor’s drug – Merck’s Fosamax. He was then suspended by the university for speaking out about the issue to BBC. In 2006, he succeeded in pressuring P&G to release the full data set which, as he anticipated, failed to support P&G’s claim that Actonel is as effective as industry leaders in treating osteoporosis.[10] See also Slate report,[11] AAAS reference,[12] and Blog[13] for further description of this incident.

David Graham[edit]

Dr. David Graham, an FDA scientist, discovered that the pain-reliever Vioxx increased risk of cardiovascular problems. Despite threats from the FDA, Graham testified to the dangers of the drug and succeeded in convincing the FDA to require large warning labels on Vioxx packaging.[14]

Victoria Hampshire[edit]

Dr. Hampshire was an FDA scientist who uncovered the dangers of an FDA-approved heartworm medication that had killed hundreds of dogs. The drug’s producer, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, tried to counter Dr. Hampshire’s claim by attacking her character. The then-acting FDA Commissioner Lester Crawford granted Wyeth a private meeting in which the company presented him with “information” about Dr. Hampshire. Following this meeting, officials at the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine removed Dr. Hampshire from the study of Wyeth’s product without explanation. She was then subjected to an FDA criminal investigation. Dr. Hampshire sought help from GAP, and the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee then voted to take the heartworm drug off the market. She was completely exonerated in the FDA’s internal investigation, and received an award for her work. Senator Charles Grassley soon launched an investigation into the actions of both Wyeth and the FDA.[15]

James Hansen[edit]

James E. Hansen was a top climate scientist at NASA, who in late 2005 released data showing that 2005 was the warmest year in a century and gave a lecture calling on U.S. leadership to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming. He then received messages from NASA officials threatening "dire consequences" if such statements continued. Restrictions were placed on his ability to speak publicly about climate change research, including a requirement that public affairs staff review his lectures, papers, and web postings before releasing them. News media were repeatedly denied interviews with Hansen by his supervisors, and drafts of his reports were edited before publication.[16]

Rick Piltz[edit]

Rick Piltz worked for years as an associate with the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. In June 2005 news reports, documents that Piltz obtained showed that a White House official with no scientific training was editing climate change science program reports in an attempt to confuse and obscure the perceived human impact on global warming. That official, previously a lead lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, was hired by ExxonMobil mere days after leaving the White House (on the heels of the story). Piltz is currently the director of Climate Science Watch, a GAP program that holds public officials accountable for how they use climate science.[17]

Andrew Thomson[edit]

In late 2004, Andrew Thomson was fired from the United Nations for publishing a book that was highly critical of the international body for mismanagement of its peacekeeping operations. In March 2005, his termination was reversed and he was promoted after Secretary General Kofi Annan, in an unprecedented decision, permitted public whistleblowing by U.N. employees. In January of the following year, the United Nations issued a new standard of whistleblower protection in an anti-retaliation policy, on which GAP was consulted.[18]

GAP and Paul Wolfowitz[edit]

In early 2007, GAP was responsible for exposing fraud and abuse at the highest levels of the World Bank.[19] In May 2007, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz left the international organization in the wake of wide-ranging scandals based on multiple releases of documents over the previous two months by GAP.[20]

GAP released evidence or exposed information showing that: Wolfowitz’s companion, Shaha Riza, received salary raises far in excess of those allowable under Bank rules; Riza received a questionable consulting position with a U.S. defense contractor in 2003 at Wolfowitz' direction that has resulted in State and Defense Department inquiries; Juan José Daboub, Bank Managing Director and Wolfowitz-hire, attempted to remove references and funding for “family planning” in Bank projects; Wolfowitz’ office was responsible for weakening a “climate change” strategy document; Bank Senior Management delayed reporting to Bank staff that a fellow staffer had been seriously wounded in a shooting in Iraq; World Bank lending to Africa during Fiscal Year of 2007 has plummeted; and Wolfowitz was trying to broaden the Bank’s portfolio in Iraq over Board opposition.

References[edit]

External links[edit]