Waxman, Davis press Bloch about alleged file deletion

Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Tom Davis (R-Va.), ranking member of the committee, have sent a letter to U.S. Special Counsel Scott Bloch requesting information about allegations that he improperly erased files on his office PC.

According to a Nov. 29 Wall Street Journal story, Bloch hired Geeks on Call, a commercial company that provides on-site computer services, to clean his computer’s hard disk. The Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general is investigating allegations that Bloch retaliated against OSC employees who complained about office policies, abused his hiring authority and politicized his office. Investigators are deciding whether Bloch’s actions were part of a cover-up, the Journal said.

In their Dec. 6 letter to Bloch, Waxman and Davis said they were “writing regarding recent reports that in December 2006, you directed the deletion of files on a computer you used at your office by using the PC-help service Geeks on Call and that you also directed this service to erase files on computers of two of your top aides. According to press accounts, the ‘seven-level wipe’ cleansing process that Geeks on Call used limits subsequent restoration of files, and the cost of the process was billed to an agency credit card.”

The letter continues: “We are interested in gaining an understanding of several issues by these reports, including the rationale for using non-government IT personnel to perform this service and the rationale for using a ‘seven-level wipe.’ We therefore request that you provide the committee staff with a transcribed interview about your reported use of Geeks on Call by Dec. l7, 2007.”

A spokesman for the Office of Special Counsel had no immediate comment on the letter.

Bloch has denied any wrongdoing in having the files erased from his PC. "None of this is relevant to the investigation, nor has [the] OPM IG informed me of any such allegations,” he said in a statement provided to Federal Computer Week.

In a hearing last July, Davis and other House Republicans accused Bloch of using his office PC to send personal e-mail messages during office hours about official OSC business, a violation of federal rules on e-mail use. They said the messages, which Bloch sent via his America Online account, disparaged Republicans who criticized his handling of an OSC investigation of General Services Administration Administrator Lurita Doan for alleged violations of the Hatch Act.

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