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6:07 am, July 31, 2014

Discouraged and Disrespected at SBA

Federal News Radio has heard accusations of whistleblower retaliation, hostile work environments, and morale problems at the Small Business Administration. The Office of Special Counsel investigated and SBA says it is trying to root out waste, fraud, and abuse. What's the real story? Federal News Radio investigates in the series, Discouraged and Disrespected at SBA.

Part 1: Four employees claim retaliation from SBA managers

In part 1 of Federal News Radio's series, "Discouraged and Disrespected at SBA," Karla Saunders says SBA management continues to exact revenge against her for testifying on behalf of another employee about agency misconduct. Saunders says among the reprisals she has faced over the past three years - officials put her in two jobs involuntarily that she has no qualifications for. SBA officials deny any wrongdoing and say the administrator has no tolerance for waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement.

Part 2: SBA employees allege fake positions created

In part 2 of the Federal News Radio's series, "Discouraged and Disrespected at SBA," Diane Sellers says she faced another round of retaliation in January when management moved her into a new position without cause. Sellers and two other career agency officials say they are facing a hostile work environment because they blew the whistle on potential misconduct. SBA says there is no evidence of HR violations or creating phony positions.

Part 3: SBA whistleblowers weigh resolution options

In part 3 of Federal News Radio's series, "Discouraged and Disrespected at SBA," Karla Saunders weighs her options to find resolution in her three-year battle against alleged retaliation. Saunders and three other agency employees say they want to return to their original jobs and restore their reputations. SBA officials say the agency is focusing on strengthening management and oversight.

Part 4: SBA's contracting practices under close scrutiny

In part 4 of Federal News Radio's series, "Discouraged and Disrespected at SBA," allegations of cronyism and conflict of interest in the acquisition process arise. Over the past year, lawmakers and auditors have raised concerns about the agency's acquisition practices. SBA officials deny the accusations and say they are strengthening their acquisition processes.

Part 5: SBA responds to whistleblower series

SBA Administrator Karen Mills sent an email to staff to respond to the Federal News Radio reports about allegations of whistleblower retaliation at the agency.

Update: SBA assures senator it's fixing management problems

The agency responds to Sen. Olympia Snowe's letter with the specific steps it's taking to improve human resources issues. The Maine Republican wrote to SBA after Federal News Radio's investigation into alleged whistleblower retaliation, human resources fraud and contracting fraud.