The second-in-command at the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, a federal agency designed to protect government whistleblowers, resigned last week, saying his boss, U.S. Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch, put “political agendas and personal vendettas” ahead of the OSC’s mission.

In an article for CIR and Salon last November, James Sandler reported that the system set up to protect whistleblowers has instead been used to punish them. The Office of Special Counsel, Sandler reported, has “long been considered a failure, due to a chronic backlog of cases, lack of resources and poor leadership.”

The resignation of James Byrne last week is the latest development in a drama that has been unfolding at the OSC for several years.

As reported by the Washington Post:

James Byrne’s resignation as deputy to Bloch is effective Saturday, The Associated Press reports. Bloch is under federal investigation, accused of destroying evidence potentially showing he retaliated against his own staff.

Bloch, appointed by President Bush in 2003 to protect government whistle-blowers and to enforce prohibitions on political activity in the federal workplace, is facing allegations of political bias, obstruction of justice and mismanagement.

The inspector general at the Office of Personnel Management has investigated Bloch since 2005 over alleged mistreatment of employees and his handling of whistle-blower cases.

>> Learn more about the Office of Special Counsel and the system designed to protect whistleblowers in a special project from CIR: “The War on Whistleblowers.”