The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a whistleblower protection and advocacy organization in the United States. A nonprofit public interest group, GAP litigates whistleblower cases, helps expose wrongdoing to the public, and actively promotes government and corporate accountability. Since its founding in 1977, GAP has helped more than 5,000 whistleblowers. GAP's leadership includes Louis Clark as Executive Director and CEO, Michael Termini as Chief of Staff, and Tom Devine as Legal Director.
GAP's Board of Directors includes Getulio Carvalho, Richard Foos, Mark Niles, Richard Salzman, and Brad S. Weeks.
The organization's program areas include Corporate & Financial Accountability, Environmental Sustainability, Food Integrity, International Reform, National Security & Human Rights, and Public Health.
In December 2012, Eric Ben-Artzi came forward publicly with evidence of multi-billion dollar securities violations at Deutsche Bank, the global financial services company. Ben-Artzi joined Deutsche Bank in 2010 as a quantitative risk analyst in the company's Market Risk Management department. He internally reported violations stemming from the bank's failure to report the value of its credit derivatives portfolio accurately. Specifically, he showed that the bank had inflated the value and underestimated the risk of a significant number of its trades. The bank retaliated in multiple ways and ultimately dismissed him. Ben-Artzi's story led to a series of front-page investigative pieces by the Financial Times. Reports showed that the Bank concealed up to $10 billion in losses and that German regulators had been briefed previously about the fraudulent activities but did nothing. Independent economists have backed Ben-Artzi's allegations. Eric Ben-Artzi is believed to be one of the first whistleblowers to make his concerns public while engaged in the SEC whistleblower process under the new Dodd-Frank regulations.
Richard Bowen is a former vice president at Citigroup who tried to warn the Bank's senior management that the percentage of defective mortgages in the bank’s portfolio had risen dramatically. Specifically, he was responsible for evaluating the quality of $90 billion of mortgages that Citigroup bought annually from Countrywide Financial and other lenders. On a 2011 episode of 60 Minutes, Bowen detailed how he began to raise concerns internally in June 2006 upon discovering that some 60% of mortgages (totaling $50 billion) sold by Citigroup to other investors did not meet the bank’s own credit-worthiness standards. Further, Bowen witnessed the way in which Citigroup intentionally lowered its standards for accepting subprime mortgage pools. He testified in 2010 before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission about his whistleblowing.
Tom Drake is a former senior executive with the National Security Agency (NSA) who blew the whistle on multi-billion dollar programmatic fraud, waste, and abuse; the critical loss and suppression of 9/11 intelligence; and the Stellar Wind project's dragnet electronic mass surveillance and data-mining (conducted on a vast scale by the agency with the approval of the White House after 9/11). Drake argued that Stellar Wind violated the Constitution and American citizens' civil liberties while weakening national security. In April 2010, the Department of Justice charged him with 10 felonies (five under the Espionage Act) and he faced 35 years in prison. He was the first whistleblower charged with espionage by the Obama administration. All charges were eventually dropped when Drake pleaded to a misdemeanor count of exceeding the authorized use of a government computer with no fine or prison time. He is the 2011 recipient of the Ridenhour Truth-Telling Prize, and with Jesselyn Radack the co-recipient of the 2011 Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award, and the 2012 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award.
Dr. David Graham is an FDA scientist who discovered that the pain-reliever Vioxx increased the risk of cardiovascular problems and heart attacks. Despite threats from the FDA, Graham testified to the Senate about the dangers of the drug and succeeded in convincing the agency to require large warning labels on Vioxx packaging. Graham's data showed that tens of thousands of heart attacks could have been avoided if Vioxx had been substituted with other drugs.
John Kiriakou is a former CIA officer who headed counterterrorism operations in Pakistan after 9/11, organized the team operation that captured suspected al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, and refused to be trained in torture interrogation tactics. In December 2007, Kiriakou gave an on-camera interview to ABC News in which he disclosed that Zubaydah was "waterboarded" and that "waterboarding" was torture – making him the first CIA officer to publicly label the action as torture. He helped expose the agency's torture program as policy rather than the actions of a few rogue agents. For these and other actions, in January 2011 Kiriakou became the sixth whistleblower charged with violating the Espionage Act by the Obama administration. Kiriakou pleaded guilty to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in exchange for the government dropping all other charges against him. He is now the sole CIA officer to serve jail time for any action involving the federal government's torture program, despite being a whistleblower on it.
In 2003, Federal Air Marshal (FAM) Robert MacLean revealed a cost-cutting plan to cancel FAM coverage from long distance flights on the eve of a confirmed al-Qaeda suicidal hijacking plan. The plan never went into effect after Congress protested, based solely on his whistleblowing disclosure. TSA fired him three years later with a single charge of “Unauthorized Disclosure of Sensitive Security Information” – an unclassified “hybrid secrecy” label the TSA retroactively applied to the information that he disclosed.
Jim Schrier is a veteran food safety inspector for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) who was retaliated against after blowing the whistle on violations of humane handling regulations at an agency-regulated Tyson Foods slaughter plant in Iowa. Serving as an inspector for 29 years, Schrier reported clear humane handling violations involving market hogs to his supervisor, including inadequate stunning techniques and that conscious animals were being shackled and slaughtered.
In early 2013, whistleblower Edward Snowden began working with journalists to reveal widespread mass surveillance programs conducted by the National Security Agency. Articles based on Snowden's documents have revealed the existence of numerous global surveillance programs run by the NSA with the cooperation of telecommunication companies and other governments. In 2013, the existence of the NSA metadata program was revealed, along with Boundless Informant, the PRISM electronic data mining program, the XKeyscore analytical tool, the Tempora interception project, the MUSCULAR access point and the massive FASCIA database, which contains trillions of device-location records. In 2014, Britain's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group was revealed, along with the Dishfire database, Squeaky Dolphin's real-time monitoring of social media networks, and the bulk collection of private webcam images via the Optic Nerve program. In June 2013, Snowden became the eighth whistleblower charged under the Espionage Act by the Obama administration.
John Crane ran the whistleblower protection unit in the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) office. He was terminated in 2013 for challenging reprisals of whistleblowers, including Thomas Drake, and himself became a whistleblower. The treatment of Drake and other global surveillance whistleblowers led Edward Snowden to go public rather than report within the system. Crane is now a consultant with GAP.
As an officer at the U.N. peacekeeping operation in Kosovo in 2007, James Wasserstrom blocked an alleged conspiracy to pay a $500 million kickback to senior U.N. and Kosovo officials in connection with the construction of a new coal mine and power plant. The UN Dispute Tribunal (UNDT) found he was subjected to serious and protracted retaliation which he faced without protection from the U.N. Ethics Office – the unit established to investigate and act against such reprisals. Wasserstrom faced relentless negative personal and professional consequences of the retaliation, while none of those who engaged in it suffered consequences themselves. He has since lobbied Congress successfully to strengthen State Department oversight of UN whistleblower protections.
In early 2007, GAP was responsible for exposing fraud and abuse at the highest levels of the World Bank. In May 2007, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz left the international organization in the wake of wide-ranging scandals based on multiple releases of documents over the previous two months by GAP.
GAP released evidence or exposed information showing that: Wolfowitz’s companion, Shaha Riza, received salary raises far in excess of those allowable under Bank rules; Riza received a questionable consulting position with a U.S. defense contractor in 2003 at Wolfowitz' direction that has resulted in State and Defense Department inquiries; Juan José Daboub, Bank Managing Director and Wolfowitz-hire, attempted to remove references and funding for “family planning” in Bank projects; Wolfowitz’ office was responsible for weakening a “climate change” strategy document; Bank Senior Management delayed reporting to Bank staff that a fellow staffer had been seriously wounded in a shooting in Iraq; World Bank lending to Africa during Fiscal Year of 2007 has plummeted; and Wolfowitz was trying to broaden the Bank’s portfolio in Iraq over Board opposition.
GAP advocated in favor of the All Circuit Review Extension Act (H.R. 4197; 113th Congress), a bill that would extend for three years the authority for federal employees who appeal a judgment of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to file their appeal at any federal court, instead of only the U.S. Court of Appeals. The pilot program was established in the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 (WPEA) to last only two years. The Government Accountability Project (GAP) calls the program "landmark" and says that it was "the WPEA's most significant structural reform." GAP argued that an extension of the pilot program was needed in order to ensure that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and Congress had enough time to see the results of the program before deciding whether to make it permanent.