Air Force Gives in to Whistleblower Mechanic who Protested Shoddy Upkeep of Spy Planes

Thursday, June 02, 2011
George Sarris has won his three-year battle with the U.S. Air Force, which retaliated against him after he complained about dangerously-poor maintenance work on American spy planes.
A lifelong civilian mechanic working at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, Sarris helped maintain reconnaissance aircraft used for intelligence missions over Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2007, he discovered a breakdown in maintenance procedures, including the failure to replace fuel, hydraulic and emergency hoses that were up to 30 years past their service life.
When Sarris, an Air Force veteran, reported the problems, his concerns were ignored, prompting him to file protests up the chain of command. He also contacted the Air Force’s inspector general, Congress and the media.
In 2008, two months after the Kansas City Star featured his whistle-blowing concerns, the Air Force suspended his security clearance. According to the Government Accountability Project, which helped represent Sarris in his legal battle, the charges levied against him were “surreal.”
He was accused of stealing government property, and “was branded as professionally incompetent and mentally unfit.”
Instead of challenging Sarris’ claims before a civil service review board, the Air Force agreed to settle. Sarris will retain his mechanic position with alternate duties until he retires in 2014. The Air Force also agreed to remove derogatory files from his personnel records, restore his performance appraisal to “excellent” or “outstanding” ratings, and pay his attorney fees.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Air Force Whistleblower George Sarris Prevails in Settlement (by Dylan Blaylock, Government Accountability Project)


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