Pro Bono

Many people today are cynical about government, cynical about public service. My attitude is different. Thirty-seven years as a lawyer in the federal civil service have left me with an enduring respect for the people who handle the most difficult jobs, often for much less than they could earn in the private sector.

As my schedule allows, I’m available to speak on the following topics at no charge for government agencies, bar associations or civic groups who want to better understand current events:

Inspector General Issues

During the last 26 years of my civil service legal career work I worked with teams of auditors and criminal investigators in three federal agencies to reduce waste, fraud and abuse in government. Working through the Council of Counsels to the Inspectors General (the IG lawyer working group) I also served as a resource person for lawyers in many other agencies.

I came to identify with the Inspector General mission of making government more effective. I am available to speak on the following topics:

  • IG relationships with Congress and the Executive Branch. This presentation includes close analysis of constitutional issues involving the effect of Executive Privilege on IG work. This presentation is primarily for IGs, their lawyers and senior staff.
  • IG Access to Information. This presentation includes some discussion of the Executive Privilege constitutional issues mentioned above but is broader in scope, covering situations that don’t involve constitutional issues but may be difficult as a practical matter. This presentation is primarily for IGs, their lawyers and senior staff, including auditors and criminal investigators. This presentation should have some value for most IGs, but it may be particularly useful for smaller Offices of Inspector General without large legal staffs who may benefit from the views of someone with significant practical experience.
  • Liaison between criminal investigators and federal prosecutors. This presentation is primarily for criminal investigators and IG lawyers. Many IGs, their senior staffs and some Assistant United States Attorneys might also find it useful. I have also given this presentation for the Association of Inspectors General, which involved mainly state and local IGs. An article I co-authored on this topic is archived at the IGNet.gov website, or through a direct link from this website. I’m finishing a followup article for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners now. This is one of my favorite topics because in my experience this is a key area where relatively small changes in approach can provide large benefits to OIGs and Assistant United States Attorneys.

A recent Off the Clock post at this website deals with a relevant current IG issue.

Knowledge Management in Government

The primary audience for this presentation is senior and mid-level managers who want practical tips on making their organizations more efficient. This presentation covers intranets as well as simpler methods of improving organizational efficiency.

This is NOT a presentation for medium to lower level IT specialists, though more senior IT staff may find it useful. It’s most useful for managers of IT shops, their supervisors and those who set goals for IT support.

I covered some of my ideas on KM in government in an article entitled A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What You Know. It was published in The Public Manager, a magazine for members of the Association for Talent Development.

I am expanding these ideas and combining them with original material for a new book intended primarily for the private sector, but of course many of the ideas are still just as applicable to the public sector.

Legal Issues Involving Whistleblowers

This includes:

  • Training federal investigators how to deal with whistleblowers more effectively. The principles involved could also be useful to IGs, their lawyers and senior staff.
  • Training federal lawyers and others teaching whistleblower rights courses how to do so more effectively. This would be train-the-trainer. My interest is more in helping your trainers become more effective, not providing mandatory routine training for your workforce.
  • Educating groups of whistleblowers or potential whistleblowers in situations where my insights could make a difference. This would not include routine government-provided whistleblower training.
  • My schedule would generally not allow me to advise or represent individual whistleblowers (see the federal Office of Special Counsel or somebody like the Government Accountability Project for that).

    I might consider pro bono work for individual whistleblowers in unusual situations where I thought my effort could result in high leverage, like establishing a favorable legal precedent that could benefit multiple whistleblowers. Such situations will be very rare, but feel free to contact me if you think your case might qualify.

I’m not interested in advising on routine matters like qualifying for OSC whistleblowing training certification. Such certification is not legally required, but even the smaller OIGs who want such certification should be able to handle simple matters like that without outside assistance.

Presentation Skills

There were many good things about working for the federal government, but I admit that most of the training I received on ethics, EEO, whistleblower rights, etc., was not exactly of the highest quality.

Rather than curse the darkness, I try to light a candle. This included giving several train-the-trainer presentations for the Office of Government Ethics worldwide conferences about training federal employees on the Standards of Conduct (i.e., “ethics”).

Any presentations I do on this topic will be strictly train-the-trainer. I’m not interested in providing routine mandatory training for your workforce. My only interest is helping your trainers become more effective presenters.