Whistleblower To Be Rehired
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department is under order to temporarily rehire a whistleblower who alleged officials mismanaged the training of foreign policemen and prosecutors, compromised intelligence secrets, and committed visa fraud.
Under the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Merit Systems Protection Board ordered Martin Andersen rehired at his former pay grade and job as a program manager in the criminal division’s International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program for 45 days. The order, effective Monday, was released Tuesday.
Board member Susanne T. Marshall found ``reasonable grounds to believe that the agency failed to extend Mr. Andersen’s term appointment because of his ... disclosures.″ Andersen’s $80,000-a-year contract was not renewed when it expired last September.
The Justice Department had opposed the temporary rehiring, which was requested by the independent Office of Special Counsel to give it until July 29 to finish investigating whether Anderson was in fact terminated in reprisal for his allegations and should be permanently re-employed.
Such interim orders, however, often result in settlements under which whistleblowers are compensated for any losses but do not resume their old jobs permanently.
Justice Inspector General Michael Bromwich said his investigation of Anderson’s allegations is continuing and ``the end of it is not imminent.″
In March, after a briefing from Bromwich on his uncompleted probe, Attorney General Janet Reno reassigned department troubleshooter Robert K. Bratt from a top position at the Immigration and Naturalization Service back to the department.
Bratt, who earlier had supervised the foreign training program, is the focus of several of Andersen’s charges, Andersen’s attorney Tom Devine said.
Andersen has alleged that Bratt failed to correct security lapses that Andersen reported and that Bratt made the decision not to renew Andersen’s contract, according to documents filed in the case. Bratt denies any improprieties, his colleagues say.
Andersen also alleged that senior officials overspent on transcripts and trips and arranged visas for two Russian women not qualified to receive them. A security sweep by department officials of the training program offices after Andersen’s allegations led to suspension of the security clearances for ICITAP’s Cary Hoover, and the chief of its operation to train policemen in Haiti, Joe Trincellito, documents in the case show.
``The point of the initial order (to rehire Andersen) is to facilitate a settlement,″ said Devine, who also heads the Government Accountability Project. ``We asked the Office of Special Counsel for this last September as a wakeup call to the Justice Department, which has refused to recognize the dispute.″
Devine said that in April 1997, just over a month after Andersen made his allegations, his ``top secret″ security clearance was removed, which forced him into less important work despite having receiving ``outstanding″ job ratings.
In a brief to the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Justice Department had argued that Andersen’s contract ``employment ended automatically. He had no entitlement to be appointed to another term.″
``This has been an extraordinarily painful process,″ Andersen said. ``I’m sorry it had to happen.″ He said he was waiting to hear from Justice officials where and when to report for work.