July 20,2023

Wyden Demands Answers from Social Security Watchdog After Declining Performance, Whistleblower Retaliation

Finance Chair Seeks Information About Allegations of a Hostile Work Environment, Misuse of Federal Funds, and Falling Productivity

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., sent a letter to Social Security Administration (SSA) Inspector General Gail Ennis regarding a series of complaints from current and former staff about the management of the office as the watchdog for Social Security.

“The Finance Committee has received complaints from current and former staff of a hostile work environment, abuse of direct hiring authority, misuse of federal funds, harassment, low staff morale, and falling productivity,” Wyden wrote. “I am writing to request your response to the findings that you and your senior leadership have responded to protected whistleblower disclosures in a hostile manner and failed to disclose those instances to Congress and the public despite a statutory requirement.” 

Following media reports in May 2022 about instances of whistleblower retaliation and abuse of the CMP program, Finance Committee majority and minority staff reviewed those concerning allegations, which included meeting with current and former employees and reviewing related documents and materials. The letter details several allegations related to the performance of the Office of the Inspector General, including Ennis and senior staff members, including:

  • Whistleblower retaliation and harassment
  • Abuse of direct hiring authority
  • Failing to disclose instances of whistleblower retaliation to Congress

Additionally, the office’s ratings by employees have plummeted in recent years. In 2022, the Social Security Inspector General’s office ranked second to last out of 432 federal subagencies surveyed by the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. Wyden has previously expressed concerns about employee morale at the SSA Office of Inspector General and its impact on the office’s performance. In October 2021, Wyden sent a letter to Inspector General Ennis about to get additional information about the office’s strategies to restore morale.

The full letter can be found here.


Press Contact: Taylor Harvey