In a report released today, the Office of Compliance — a Congressional office charged with protecting the rights and safety of Hill employees — said that it has been blocked from getting the work email addresses of Hill employees.
The OOC said it had wanted to send a survey in 2008 to the 30,000 people who work on Capitol Hill. The idea was to gauge whether they knew about their rights they have as employees when it comes to safety, conflict resolution, sexual harassment and the like.
But, the OOC says, it wasn’t allowed access to the email addresses, and could only send its survey to some staffers.
“Without access to the email addresses of all employees, the survey results were statistically insignificant,” reads the report (PDF).
The OOC won’t say who blocked it from getting access to the same employees the office serves.
The report also provides details about how many employees came to the OOC, a clearinghouse for complaints about compensation, harassment and other issues typically handled by a human resources department. In the 2009 fiscal year, the OOC had 238 contacts with Hill employees.
There were more harassment complaints than any other one category, according to the report, with 57 contacts. 17 of those requested counseling or mediation from the office.
In some cases, the OOC brokers financial settlements between an employee and the government. As Politico pointed out today, the government paid out $4 million in monetary settlements in the 2007 fiscal year, resulting from 25 cases, some of them alleging sexual harassment. The next year, the government settled for more than $830,000.
The settlements aren’t paid by the member of Congress or staffer accused of misconduct. Rather, they’re paid with taxpayer money.