WASHINGTON D.C. — Project on Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that works to support positive government reform. POGO’s goal is to achieve a more effective, accountable, open and ethical federal government. POGO accomplishes this through investigations into corruption, misconduct and conflicts of interest. The group believes firmly in the transparency and accountability of the government.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, the Project on Government Oversight works with whistleblowers and sources on the inside in order to highlight government activities. The end game is bigger than simply exposing issues however. POGO also works to propose solutions and aims toward the implementation of reform.
Whistleblowers are individuals who choose to come forward and reveal serious misconduct within their organization, metaphorically “blowing the whistle.” Because individuals rightfully believe this will result in the loss of their job and or retaliation, The Whistleblower Protection Act works to protects federal employees from such methods.
While some oversight organizations are staffed with scientists and experts, hired to focus on one specific issue, POGO’s expertise comes from working with sources inside the government.
POGO’s website invites viewers to read about the organization’s current work both by issue and by format. Issues cover a wide range, from public health and science, to contract oversight, to national security. Formats available for exploration include resources like, letters to policy makers, reports, testimony and databases.
Founded in 1981, POGO began with the goal of exposing outrageously overpriced military spending. For example, $7,600 was spent on a coffee maker for the military. Given POGO’s success with reforming military spending, including the Pentagon freeze at the height of the Cold War, POGO expanded its mandate—investigating abuse, fraud and waste throughout the federal government.
POGO begins by identifying system corruption or other misconduct that impacts the functionality of the federal government. Using its own guidelines, POGO performs investigations. Through research and work with whistleblowers, the organization seeks to find tips and documents to support the case.
Findings take the form of reports, alerts, statements, studies and journalistic reports.
After evidence is gathered, POGO makes recommendations for solutions, while also educating the media and public on their findings. In this way, POGO hopes to empower the public to act on the information.
Evaluating priorities and following guidelines allows POGO to prioritize which projects to focus on. This includes the organization’s capacity to make a unique contribution to an area. The opportunity must show potential to change through reform. Urgency and ability to broaden public awareness are also factors in choosing projects. The availability of inside sources and documents is crucial.
While many would expect that POGO’s work to be frowned upon by federal employees, throughout its history the organization has been applauded for its work by Members of Congress from both parties, federal workers, whistleblowers, other nonprofits and the media.
– Caroline Logan
Sources: POGO, Tully Rinckey PLLC