Whistle-blower alleges reprisals

March 04, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

Federal investigators are checking an allegation that officials at Fort Meade illegally punished a whistle-blower who spoke out about alleged corruption on the base.

Charles M. Johnson, a supply systems analyst in the Fort Meade Directorate of Logistics, said Wednesday that the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is looking into his case.

"OSC is aware of allegations of reprisal at Fort Meade," said Paul Ellis, a spokesman for the independent federal agency that investigates reprisals against government whistle-blowers.

He also said OSC is in touch with at least one person alleging prohibited personnel practices at Fort Meade, but would not elaborate.

A spokesman for Fort Meade declined to comment yesterday.

The Whistle-blower Protection Act of 1989 protects most government employees.

It is illegal to fire, demote or give a bad performance review to someone in reprisal for reporting gross mismanagement, gross waste or abuse of authority.

Mr. Johnson, 45, said he took his allegations of theft and illegal personnel practices at Fort Meade to members of Congress and to military officials in 1989. He later contacted reporters.

He said that, while taking inventory at Fort Meade, he discovered "big problems."

A November 1991 letter from the Department of the Army's Inspector General's Office to U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland stated that a July 1991 inventory discovered "deficiencies in the accountability system possibly involving millions of dollars."

At least 22 investigations have been launched since November 1992 into more than 87 charges of fraud, waste and abuse at Fort Meade.

Mr. Johnson said he also reported alleged violations of environmental laws at Fort Meade to elected officials in January 1994. After making those allegations, he said, he was pulled from duty working on an environmental report.

"Here's the ironic thing," he said. "They give me the most vicious studies to do . . . [but] they pull me off when I discover too much."

Mr. Ellis said the OSC is "prepared and ready to talk with others who come forward and want to file complaints with this office."

The OSC phone numberis 1-800-872-9855.

Garrison Commander Robert G. Morris III met with congressional staffers Feb. 25 and gave them a progress report on the investigations at Fort Meade.

Though some investigations are still in progress, it appears they have been conducted in a thorough manner, said Dan Miller, an aide to Maryland's other U.S. senator, Paul S. Sarbanes.

He also said Fort Meade officials have contacted the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore about some of the charges.

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