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  • Harroll Ingram Jr.

The Voice of the Government Employee: An Advocate on the Inside

Many government employees enter service with the expectation of working in the best interest of the country and its citizens. As taxpayers, government employees have an opportunity to assist in controlling how their tax dollars are best spent. Unfortunately, a large number of government employees, including many in leadership positions, carry out their duties in unethical ways for financial gain or to position themselves for a promotion. The unethical government leaders often punish their employees who expose unethical behavior (i.e., they punish the whistleblowers).

One famous whistleblower, Army Private Bradley Manning (now known as Chelsea Manning), informed taxpayers that their tax dollars were being used to fund unspeakable activities such as killing innocent citizens in unjust wars. In one case, Manning’s information showed the killing of reporters by rouge U.S. service members firing a high-powered machine gun from a helicopter. Private Manning believed the public would view the released information and take actions to stop the atrocities. However, Manning was incorrect. Instead, Private Manning was put on trial by the U.S. military’s legal system and eventually sentenced to 35 years in prison for informing the public of the lack of discipline in his military.

There are taxpayer advocates who are not famous who have also been punished for revealing unethical activities and a lack of discipline in government organizations. In the book Cats Don’t Bark: Memoir of a Black Federal Employee, the author mentions reporting a contractor who was in the process of selling the government $5 bottles of Loctite adhesive for $500 each. He shared that over $1,000,000 worth of un-needed VHA course materials were purchased then tossed in the trash to hide the fact they were not being used. He also reported that favored companies were given unfair advantages to ensure they won government contracts. Nothing was done to address any of the actions the author reported to his superiors. Instead, he was punished (i.e., retaliated against) for shedding light on the unethical/illegal activities.

Perhaps the media could lend assistance by informing the public of ongoing government retaliation complaints. Daily news reports cover the alleged actions of non-government suspects without waiting for formal legal rulings. The same approach should be adopted concerning government whistleblower and retaliation complaints. As taxpayers, we all have a right to know how our hard-earned money is being misused. The taxpayers can definitely benefit from the voice of the government employee who serves as an advocate on the inside.

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