In keeping with the government’s increased focus on whistleblowers, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced (pdf) the creation of a new position dedicated exclusively to whistleblower protections. Long-time federal prosecutor Robert Storch has been named as the first Whistleblower Ombudsperson within the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG). According to the DOJ announcement, the Whistleblower Ombudsperson will be tasked with training and educating DOJ employees about the importance of whistleblowers and the various protections afforded to them. The Ombudsperson will also be charged with making sure that whistleblower charges are thoroughly and expeditiously reviewed and addressed by the OIG; communicating with whistleblowers about the status of their complaints; monitoring retaliation claim investigations within the OIG’s jurisdiction; and serving as a liaison to other federal agencies that oversee whistleblower statutes, nongovernmental whistleblower organizations, and advocacy groups.
In a statement, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said: “Whistleblowers play a critical role in uncovering waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. . . this new position will enable the OIG to continue its leadership as a strong and independent voice within the Department of Justice on whistleblower issues.”