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Project On Government Oversight
April 16, 2012

From Comfort Capsules to Human Trafficking, Schwellenbach's Investigations 'Ahead of the Curve'
By Dana Liebelson

For Schwellenbach, whose last day as POGO’s director of investigations is this week, exposing the comfort capsules was one of the highlights of his career, which has included investigating the failures of the military whistleblower protection system, spurring reforms in how the U.S. deals with human trafficking, and exposing cost overruns in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter—among other things. “At POGO, I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot, and the luxury of time, something that is increasingly rare in the field of journalism” says Schwellenbach. “I’ve also been able to get a lot done on the Hill.” Schwellenbach leaves POGO after six years, the last two spent as Director of Investigations. Ask Schwellenbach’s colleagues to describe him, and the phrases that come up show a guy who is not afraid to go against the grain and do what’s right—even if it seems a little unorthodox. He’s been called a ““mischievous genius,” “intellectually challenging, but in a fun way,” “a touch counterintuitive” and even, “a cheetah in the Serengeti—with zebras around.” Burnham points to two of Schwellenbach’s investigations that he considers particularly outstanding: an investigation using data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) to examine whether the Department of Defense Inspector General was achieving its stated goals; and working with POGO investigator Michael Smallberg to create POGO’s “Revolving Door Database” for the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2012
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