April 03,2006

Grassley Expresses Concern Over Red Cross' Treatment of Whistleblowers


To: Reporters and Editors
Re: Red Cross response on governance reforms, whistleblowers
Da: Monday, April 3, 2006

Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, continues to review the
practices of the Red Cross as part his broad look at non-profit governance. He made the following
comment on the Red Cross’ response to his latest inquiry.

“I met with the leaders of the Red Cross last week and received a timeline for needed reforms
over the next six months. The proposed reforms track my concerns, such as getting an independent,
thorough review of governance problems and coordinating better with other charities on the ground.
The Red Cross officials pledged to give me quarterly updates on progress. I want to make sure their
deeds match their good words.

“I’m concerned that words are not matching promises when it comes to whistleblowers. One
of the issues I discussed at length with Red Cross leaders is that a bedrock of reform is listening to
whistleblowers. If management is listening, whistleblowers can do much to improve any
organization. The Red Cross response on two whistleblowers seems to quibble over inconsequential
details or make innuendoes without support or substance. I’m not in a position to comment on the
accuracy of the details but the bottom line is, these two whistleblowers pointed out problems in the
Red Cross’ hurricane response in Louisiana, and it turns out, there were indeed problems. Blaming
the messenger for bad news undermines the commitment to reform. That’s especially true when the
messenger is a volunteer who drops everything and spends weeks away from home to help his or her
fellow Americans, and when the organization blaming the messenger depends on volunteers to
perform its huge job. Given their response to whistleblowers, I worry that the Red Cross
management still doesn’t get it.”