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NRI whistle-blower takes on US Govt

This is the second instance of an NRI whistle-blower attracting attention in recent times, reports S Rajagopalan.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2006 01:15 IST
S Rajagopalan
S Rajagopalan

An Indian American investigator has blown the whistle on the highly-regarded US Government Accountability Office for exonerating contractors in an alleged scientific fraud involving builders of a $26 billion missile defence system.

Subrata Ghoshroy, who led the technical analysis for GAO, has accused the oversight agency of ignoring evidence that the project's two main contractors had doctored data and skewed test results, the New York Times reported on Sunday.

The GAO, however, has strongly denied the allegations. Asserting that the 2002 report on the subject was impartial, David M. Walker, who heads the agency, has dubbed Ghoshroy "a relatively low-level, disgruntled employee" out of step with his technical peers.

But Ghoshroy, currently a research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on leave from GAO, has won appreciation from others. Harvard physicist John P. Holden regards him as "smart, capable and honest".

This is the second instance of an Indian American whistle-blower attracting attention in recent times. Last November, Seema Bhatt, a middle-rung official of Washington's Water and Sewer Authority, had won a $500,000 court package for exposing excessive lead levels in the capital's water supply.

The 56-year-old Ghoshroy, who earned his master's degree in electrical engineering from Boston's Northeastern University in 1973, has made the charges against GAO in a letter to Congressman Howard L. Berman and Senator Charles E. Grassley, who had sought the GAO study.

Obtaining a copy of the letter from Berman's office along with dozens of documents submitted by Ghoshroy, the NYT report speaks of the cover-up detected by the investigator. One of his findings was that the military contractors had buried disturbing charts at the back of an otherwise upbeat report.

The allegations of falsified research findings in the missile defence project were first raised about 10 years ago by Nira Schwartz, a senior engineer with TRW, a subcontractor for Boeing. However, both TRW and Boeing denied any impropriety in executing the project that has been marked by several test failures.

It was Schwarz's allegations that prompted the lawmakers to ask the GAO to take up the matter. Much to Ghoshroy's surprise, the GAO report ended up giving a virtual clean chit to the contractors. He made repeated attempts to get the agency to reverse its position, but to no avail.

First Published: Apr 03, 2006 00:38 IST