Press Release: OSTP Director Resigns After Whistleblower Speaks Out About Toxic Workplace Culture

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 8, 2022

OSTP director resigns after whistleblower speaks out about toxic workplace culture

Government Accountability Project represents OSTP Chief Operating Officer and Assistant Attorney Rachel Wallace, who bravely spoke out against Eric Lander’s misconduct.

WASHINGTON — Eric Lander, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and science adviser to President Biden’s cabinet, resigned last night following reports that an internal White House investigation found he “bullied and belittled his subordinates and violated White House workplace policy.

Government Accountability Project represents federal whistleblower Rachel Wallace, one of several OSTP employees who have repeatedly raised concerns about Director Lander’s misconduct. Ms. Wallace is a career civil servant who worked as an attorney at OSTP during the Obama and Trump administrations and served as general counsel until she was removed after raising legal and management issues. Ms Wallace told Politico that Dr Lander “retaliated against staff for talking and asking questions by calling them names, belittling them, embarrassing them in front of their peers, making fun of them, avoiding them, removing them from their positions and replacing them, or kicking them out of the agency.

After making protected information, Ms. Wallace was subject to reprisals. No public response was made by the White House until employees speak up bravely, risking their careers. Despite the Director’s recent resignation, Ms. Wallace remains a victim who has not been healed. And she’s not alone; The Government Accountability Project represents other OSTP staff who have been victimized. Accountability extends beyond Eric Lander, as additional disclosures from the Government Accountability Project will show.

The OSTP plays a critical role in setting policy and funding priorities for all federal science and technology initiatives and responds to global threats such as the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change; and, most recently, President Biden’s Moonshot Cancer Initiative. Its employees have the right to be safe and protected, and we encourage further investigation.

Dana Gold, senior counsel for the Government Accountability Project and one of Ms Wallace’s attorneys, said:

“We salute Rachel’s courage. She worked to respond in a timely manner to the director’s toxic and chronic hostility to career staff and its grave implications for the integrity of the OSTP and for all of federal science. That it took him to speak publicly with the press to draw attention to Dr. Lander’s behavior is deeply concerning. The culture and mechanisms that allowed Director Lander to create a hostile work environment and mistreat staff without control also need to be addressed. We will support Ms. Wallace and others in their continued efforts to fully report issues to the OSTP in the days and weeks ahead.

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Contact: Andrew Harman, Director of Communications
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: (202) 926-3304

Government Accountability Project

Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. By arguing whistleblower cases, raising concerns, and developing legal reforms, the mission of the Government Accountability Project is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

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