The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on Thursday launched a bipartisan investigation into the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Commerce over allegations the agency’s chief had engaged in whistleblower retaliation.
The Committee members alleged that Inspector General Peggy Gustafson and “senior members” of the OIG had engaged in the retaliation, made misleading statements to Congress and conducted operations with “gross mismanagement,” according to a letter signed by Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren, an Oklahoma Republican and California Democrat respectively, citing reports received by the Committee. The letter also notes the “billions of dollars” recently appropriated by the Biden administration from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS and Science Act fall under the OIG’s oversight, and that hostilities towards whistleblowers would “fundamentally undermine” the ability of the OIG to perform its duties. (RELATED: Fraudsters Likely Stole At Least $60 Billion In Pandemic Unemployment Benefits, Gov’t Report Says)
“Based upon the allegations received and evidence reviewed, the Committee has concluded that further investigative steps are warranted,” the congressmen wrote. The Committee required all OIG staffers named in the report to schedule interviews with the Committee by April 20.
We launched a bipartisan investigation into serious allegations of misconduct in @CommerceOIG including retaliation against whistleblowers. 👉 Read the letter from @RepFrankLucas @JayObernolte & @sciencedems @RepZoeLofgren @ValerieFoushee: https://t.co/qFO8oHqMD6 pic.twitter.com/gPantlg7Yb
— House Science Committee (@housescience) April 6, 2023
Gustafson said that the allegations made against the OIG were “baseless” and that her office “now provides better, more comprehensive oversight … than ever before,” in an April 11 statement.
“I don’t engage in retaliation or permit it,” said Fustafson. “Never have and never will. I am proud of my record as Inspector General protecting whistleblowers and will never waver from that commitment.”
The Science Committe’s letter does not make clear the nature of the alleged whistleblower retaliation, and the names of four OIG staffers who the Committee has requested to interview were redacted.
The letter was also signed by Republican Jay Obernolte of California and Democrat Valerie Foushee of North Carolina, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Investigation and Oversight.
The House Science Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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