History of the Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that defends government and corporate whistleblowers. It also seeks to advance occupational free speech, influence legal reform, and empower activists. GAP is the leading whistleblower organization in the United States, and pursues its mission through several programs including International Reform, Nuclear Oversight, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, Federal Employee/National Security Programs, and Environmental Oversight. It’s leadership includes Louis Clark as President, Tom Devine as Legal Director and Beatrice Edwards as Executive Director.

The GAP was originally founded in 1975 as an offshoot of the Institute for Policy Studies. It is recognized as a 501 (c)(3) organization, and operates with a budget of approximately $2.5 million, which predominantly comes from donated funds from such as foundations as the Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundation, CS Fund, the Open Society Institute and the Rockefeller Family Fund.  In 1977, the GAP separately incorporated from the Institute for Policy Studies, but retained its connection with the IPS, which also focuses on assisting whistleblowers.

Areas of Focus

The Government Accountability Project assists those from various areas that raise concerns of public interest. Most of GAP client’s fall within the whistleblower domain, however, GAP does have several others. As a result of dealing with clients from several areas, the GAP has developed a variety of programs for clients. They are the following:

  • Environment: The Environment program monitors environmental agencies, nuclear facilities and climate science data.
  • Food Integrity: The Food Integrity Campaign seeks to strengthen the current American food system.
  • Corporate & Financial Accountability: the Corporate & Financial Accountability program reviews national & international financial institutions and holds them accountable.
  • Government Employees: This program assists federal and District of Columbia government employees.
  • National Security & Human Rights: This program monitors government actions towards politically-motivated discrimination, surveillance, secrecy and transparency, torture and disaster response time and accountability.
  • International: The International program watchdogs the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations and regional development banks.
  • Legislation: This program advocates for improved whistleblower protection laws and monitoring current legislation.
  • Litigation: The Litigation program assists with a number of cases before administrative agencies and courts in a variety of jurisdictions.
  • Public Health: Public Health monitors consumer medical device s and  pharmaceutical drug safety.

Achievements

Besides assisting its whistleblower clients, the GAP also designs and executes campaigns, usually nationwide, to publicize and draw attention to specific issues that may concern citizens and policymakers. GAP also assists policymakers in drafting legislation for federal,state, and local governments as well as international NGOS. Often, policymakers request GAP’s help when drafting new legislation.

Since 1977, the Government Accountability Project has assisted over 1800 whistleblowers. Six hundred have been from the nuclear power industry; 300 have been from the nuclear weapons industry; 500 have been from the meat processing; 200 have been from government contractors, and 200 have been from federal agencies.  Many of the whistleblowers remain anonymous, but a few of the more popular well-publicized whistleblower cases can be viewed on the GAP website. Some of these clients include Thomas Drake  ( National Security Agency), Kit Foshee (quality assurance manager at Beef Products, Inc.), William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe (former National Security Agency employees) and anonymous whistleblowers that exposed the Paul Wolfowitz scandal at the World Bank.

Additional Resources

  • Institute for Policy Studies: A non-profit organization that advocates for peace, non-violence and environmental protection. It also assists whistleblowers that may have knowledge from covert intelligence agencies.
  • Whistleblower Protection Program: OSHA’S  (Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s) program which enforces 21 of the whistleblower statutes which are intended to protect government whistleblowers.
  • The Whistleblower Protection Act: An overview of the statute that protects federal employees who engage in “whistleblowing.”