Magazine article Insight on the News

Is Rep. Bob Barr Ready for New Job? (the Watchers)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Is Rep. Bob Barr Ready for New Job? (the Watchers)

Article excerpt

He's a conservative Republican and a fierce advocate for employee free-speech rights. But is he interested? That's the question whistle-blower advocates and other good-government watchdogs are asking about Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia, who was defeated this year in a bitter contest that pitted the redistricted congressman against a fellow Republican incumbent. Barr signed on as a consultant for the American Civil Liberties Union in November. A more lasting fit, sources tell the watchers, would be a presidential appointment of the feisty Barr as special counsel of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC).

The OSC is the independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency that safeguards the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, particularly in cases of whistle-blowing. Besides enforcing the Hatch Act, which prohibits certain partisan activities by federal workers, the OSC serves as a safe channel for workers with complaints about legal violations, gross mismanagement or waste of funds, specific dangers to public health and safety, and abuses of authority.

After being confirmed unanimously by the Senate, Elaine Kaplan is credited with working virtual miracles during her nearly five years at the OSC helm. …

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