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Justice Department Watchdog Creates New Whistle-Blower Position

Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Whistle-blowers inside the U.S. Justice Department have a new ally.

Michael Horowitz, the department’s inspector general, today announced the creation of a “Whistle-blower Ombudsperson,” a role designed to increase the attention paid to whistle-blowers, as well as providing a new level of protection from retaliation.

“Whistle-blowers play a critical role in uncovering waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement and this new position will enable the OIG to continue its leadership as a strong and independent voice within the Department of Justice on whistle-blower issues,” Horowitz said in a statement.

Robert Storch, who recently joined the inspector general’s office as a counselor, will serve in the new position.

Horowitz, who was confirmed by the Senate in April, said that in the short time he has been in the role he has seen the benefits of whistle-blowers within the department.

The new position will have oversight over all of the Justice Department whistle-blower complaints and will be responsible for ensuring that the inspector general reviews and responds to each one. The official also will monitor investigations into retaliation claims and serve as the office’s liaison to other agencies and outside advocacy groups.

Horowitz is now in the middle of an investigation of the shuttered Fast and Furious program, the failed law enforcement border operation that allowed gun purchases in the U.S. in an effort to trace the weapons to Mexican drug cartels. Whistle-blowers helped bring that case to the attention of lawmakers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Mattingly in Washington at pmattingly@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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