DoJ IG ombudsman to guarantee whistleblower rights

Friday - 8/10/2012, 11:01am EDT

Robert Storch, Counselor, Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General

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You can think of him as the watchdog of the watchdog.

Long-time federal prosecutor Robert Storch joined the Justice Department last month as the whistleblower ombudsman. In the newly-created position, Storch is charged with making sure whistleblower complaints coming into the Office of the Inspector General are reviewed in a timely and proper manner.

"We see over and over again the importance of whisteblowers in bringing information to light regarding what's going on. The purpose of the position is to help ensure the IG's office continues to provide an appropriate forum to review those complaints," Storch said in an interview The Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp.

As counselor to the IG, Storch will also oversee training of employees on the role of whistleblowers and report to managers of any repercussions against whistleblowers.

A whistleblower ombudsman position is currently in place only at the Defense Department and a couple other agencies, but it's a best practice, particularly in the private sector, Storch said.

One government oversight group said the ombudsman position will help create a more whistleblower-friendly environment at the DoJ.

"Establishing this ombudsman position at Justice will make it easier for would-be whistleblowers to feel safe in coming forward and better ensure that when they do take that risk to tell the truth, their voices are actually heard," according to a blog post by the Project on Government Oversight.

Storch, who hails from Albany, said his first task is to assemble partnerships with other agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations. In particular, his office will work closely with the Office of Special Counsel.

After 25 years as a federal prosecutor, focusing mainly on public corruption and white-collar crime, Storch said he is "very excited" to work on whistleblower issues at DoJ.

"This is an opportunity to come in and, I feel, give back to the department," he said.

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