On December 1, Wilkie put in one of many political appointees beneath investigation, Daniel Sitterly—who till then headed the VA’s human sources division—as Bonzanto’s second-in-command on the watchdog workplace. Wilkie did so, the grievance says, with out consulting Bonzanto and, when she was knowledgeable, over her objections, partially as a result of she had already performed a seek for candidates and chosen one to fill the job.
The watchdog’s investigations of senior VA officers remained ongoing as of this week and will not discover any wrongdoing.
However Wilkie’s placement of Sitterly in a management job within the workplace that’s investigating Sitterly himself and others near the secretary raises questions in regards to the watchdog‘s quasi-independent standing because it carries out its statutory mission to probe senior officers and defend whistleblowers, supposedly with out meddling from prime political leaders.
The grievance alleges that Wilkie is attempting handy efficient management of the whistleblower safety workplace to Sitterly, and quotes Wilkie saying, “that Mr. Sitterly is coming to OAWP to be ‘his voice.’”
The whistleblower grievance additionally cites an change Bonzanto says she had with the VA’s number-two govt, appearing Deputy Secretary Pamela Powers, over the position of whistleblowers within the watchdog workplace. In keeping with the grievance, Bonzanto instructed Powers that workers have a proper to boost issues, to which Powers replied, “Sure, however we even have to guard the Secretary,” additionally telling her, we “have numerous problematic workers in OAWP.”
One supply instructed POGO that Powers has declared internally that the choice to put in Sitterly got here a number of weeks previous to its announcement on December 1, and was reached in coordination with the White Home Presidential Personnel Workplace.
One other educated official described Sitterly as a “mannequin public servant” who volunteered to assist flip across the watchdog workplace, which has been broadly seen as dysfunctional.