Defense Department’s Gag Rule Memo Spurs Letter Urging Office of the Special Counsel to Investigate

Open The Government and the Government Accountability Project sent a letter to the Office of the Special Counsel today urging the agency to investigate the Department of Defense’s new policy that restricts the information its employees share with Congress, according to a memo obtained by the Washington Post. The memo, issued by acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan, detailed the criteria through which Pentagon officials may provide information to congressional offices or committees but, in violation of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and Consolidated Appropriations Act, did not include specific required provisions that allow DoD employees to speak out about misconduct.

In the letter, OTG and GAP expressed concern that Defense employees reading such rules will not know they have the right to contact Congress or the media to expose misconduct:

“Or worse, even employees who know their rights may find themselves chilled from speaking out due to fear of illegal discipline for violating agency policy. Indeed, an employee may be deterred from making a disclosure about illegal, harmful, wasteful, or other operational policy that betrays the agency’s mission solely because communications with Congress surrounding operational information are expressly prohibited by this policy.

Read the full letter.