Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

New Tactic to avoid public oversight: Government employees file anonymous "security concern" reports

A game plan for accountability in government. What you can do. Summary

Government employees need to face meaningful sanctions for providing false, misleading, or incorrect information to the public that unreasonably exposes a public official to unnecessary attention. Further, government officials need to be subject to the threat of meaningful sanctions when they provide false and misleading "security alerts" to law enforcement.


1 Solution


Government employees have learned they too can play politics in the post 9-11 World. Not only do they engage in the normal office politics, but they know they can lie to law enforcement about "suspicious people."

Here's the scenario. Government employees regularly botch problems. Rather than solve problems, they create more problems.

In those rare cases where the public actually figures out the ruse and has evidence of their ploys, government employees do not like to be challenged.

Rather than admit wrong doing, or a failure to comply with their standards, government employees will give deliberately wrong information to the public on "who supervisors are" to send people into a maze.

Small problem. When government employees give "incorrect information about who to talk to", and that "identified person" is a "protected person".

Rather than solve the problem, the government employee will provide false, and materially misleading information about "who the supervisors are" in order to waste time, send people on a wild goose chase, and avoid identifying the "actual supervisor."

Small problem. The government employee [who provides the incorrect information] suddenly is faced with a dilemma when that pseudo-supervisor appears, and the public engages in a discussion.

The "gate keeper" now has a problem. They've failed to perform their duty of "gate keeping." And they've now got a real problem on their hands: Someone "that knows something" is talking to the ~last~ person they want to know about the issue.

Here's their solution. They call into the security department with a convoluted tale, whining, "We've got a security problem."

Here's the deal. If the "gatekeeper" doesn't give the "wrong information" to begin with, there would be no "problem".

The issue becomes: How many of these "bogus security alerts" are needed to ensure that this misconduct is corrected?

It's all fair and good to "play the bureaucracy game" and "send people to the wrong department"; the real problem is when this incorrect information then is actually relied upon, and the public is then subjected to unreasonable scrutiny and inquiry.

Again, the issue is that the public officials and staff are not adequately responding. Rather than admit they have a problem, they state that the problem is "minor" or "not an issue." This is not satisfactory.

Moreover, government officials cannot hide behind the "we work for the government" when their collective actions, misleading statements, and diversion tactics end up being an unreasonable basis for security to be alerted and dispatched. This is not an efficient use of resources.

In short, government employees who are failing to perform cannot be rewarded by shifting the attention to the public. Moreover, it is inappropriate that government employees provide misleading information to law enforcement and security services in order to shift attention from the government employee to the public.

This conduct does little to inspire confidence in the notion of a "responsive government." Rather, the more that government employees are allowed to get away with shifting attention from their malfeasance by using this diversionary ruse, the more the public is likely to be harmed.

The public suffers when we are provided poor service and excuses for malfeasance. The greater crime is to reward government workers who fail to perform their duty by giving them easy access to law enforcement and security; the public has a hard enough time getting law enforcement to respond to simple problems. Government employees should not have an easier time than the public in launching law enforcement on a diversionary campaign.


Government employees need to face sanctions for:

  • Providing false and misleading information to the public that leads a protected government official to be exposed to inappropriate contact by the public, or causes security services or protective services to be dispatched without due cause;

  • Providing false and misleading information to law enforcement or security services in order to distract attention from concerns with allegations of government malfeasance;

  • Providing false and misleading information to any supervisor in order to perpetuate a ruse to avoid consequences for failing to perform statutorily-required or promised duties to the public; and/or

  • Providing false and misleading information to any law enforcement officer with the object of shifting attention from public concerns with alleged government malfeasance with the hope of {a} using law enforcement to intimidate the public; and/or {b} squelch public pressure on government to perform statutorily-required or promised duties to the public.