Experienced federal prosecutor Robert Storch will serve as first-ever whistleblower ombudsperson in the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s office, the department announced today.
Storch began in the position last month and most recently served as deputy criminal chief in U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
As ombudsperson, Storch will handle all matters related to whistleblower complaints and retaliation investigations. He will work as an educator within the department and as a liaison to other government agencies, such as the Office of Special Counsel.
“Whistleblowers play a critical role in uncovering waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement,” Inspector General Michael Horowitz said in a statement. “And this new position will enable the OIG to continue its leadership as a strong and independent voice within the Department of Justice on whistleblower issues.”
In the coming weeks, Horowitz is expected to issue a report following his investigation of a high-profile whistleblower case: Operation Fast and Furious. Just yesterday, ATF whistleblower Peter Forcelli resolved his retaliation lawsuit against the agency through mediation.
Storch said in an interview with Main Justice that a number of cases that come through the IG’s office are the result of whistleblower complaints.
Most recently, the office issued a report detailing widespread nepotism within the department’s Justice Management Division. The case came to the office through Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who received information from a whistleblower, Storch said.
Storch also noted the Inspector General’s report on Fast and Furious, the most high-profile of whistleblower cases before the office. He is quick to point out, though, that his position was not created as a result of Fast and Furious.
Rather, he said, Horowitz pulled from experience in the private sector, in which corporations routinely maintain whistleblower ombudspeople.
“Rather than wait for it to be required, we thought we should go ahead and do it and be on the forefront,” Storch said.