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Whistleblower Protection

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Part of the OIG’s mission is to investigate wrongdoing exposed by EAC employees and contractors. The OIG Whistleblower Protection Program ensures that employees and contractors who disclose allegations of serious wrongdoing or gross mismanagement are free from fear of reprisal for their disclosures.  As a part of that program, the OIG conducts training for EAC staff regarding whistleblower protections and rights.

Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA)

The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) protects Federal employees and applicants for employment who lawfully disclose information they reasonably believe evidences a violation of law, rule, or regulation, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.  Under the WPA, certain federal employees may not take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take; any personnel action against an employee or applicant for employment because of the employee or applicant’s protected whistleblowing. See 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b) (8).

Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA)

On November 27, 2012, President Obama signed the WPEA into law to strengthen protections for Federal employees who report fraud, waste and abuse. The WPEA: 

  • Clarifies the scope of protected disclosures; the disclosure does not lose protection because: the disclosure was made to someone, including a supervisor, who participated in the wrongdoing disclosed; the wrongdoing being reported has previously been disclosed; of the employee’s motive for reporting the wrongdoing; the disclosure was made while the employee was off duty;  the disclosure was made during the employee’s normal course of duty, if the employee can show that the personnel action was taken in reprisal for the disclosure; of the amount of time which has passed since the occurrence of the events described in the disclosure. 

  • Protects disclosures that an employee reasonably believes are evidence of censorship related to research, analysis, or technical information that causes, or will cause, a gross government waste or gross mismanagement , an abuse of authority, a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or any violation of law;

  • Expands the penalties imposed for violating whistleblower protections;

  • Establishes a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman in certain OIGs for a five year period.  

Office of Special Counsel

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal agency that investigates and prosecutes prohibited personnel practices by federal agencies, including whistleblower retaliation. If you believe you have been subject to retaliation for protected whistleblowing contact OSC, 1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218, Washington, DC 20036-4505, 202-254-3600 (Phone), 800-872-9855(Toll Free), 800-877-8339 (Federal Relay Service),

The Whistleblower Protection Act protects current or former employees or contractors who disclose information that they reasonably believe evidences fraud, waste, or abuse in the form of:

  • a violation of any law, rule or regulation by EAC, its employees or its contractors;

  • gross mismanagement;

  • gross waste of funds;

  • a false claim made against the EAC;

  • an overpayment by the EAC to a contractor;

  • abuse of authority; or

  • substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.

Disclosures can be made to a supervisor, a senior EAC official, the Office of Inspector General, or the Office of Special Counsel.  If the disclosure involves a matter that is required to remain secret under Federal law or Executive Order, the disclosure must be made either to the Inspector General or to the Office of Special Counsel.

If a disclosure is made to the OIG, the OIG can determine whether to investigate the matter; refer it to another, more appropriate agency for action; or to decline to investigate the complaint. When the OIG believes that an employee who provided information to EAC management or the OIG is vulnerable to reprisal, the Inspector General may respond in one of several ways:

  • Conduct a formal or informal inquiry to determine if reprisal is occurring;

  • If reprisal is occurring, advise the appropriate EAC management to intervene;

  • If reprisal continues, assist the employee with seeking appropriate redress from the Office of Special Counsel or other appropriate authority.

Considerations for Employees

Making Disclosures to the OIG

Employees who report allegations of serious wrongdoing or gross mismanagement must provide sufficient information for the OIG to commence an inquiry. The information provided as a part of the disclosure is particularly important if the employee wishes to remain anonymous.  If the employee does not wish to be contacted or named, insufficient information can hinder the OIG’s investigation of the complaint.

Any disclosure should be based on a reasonable belief that the information is accurate.  It should not be based solely on a suspicion or "office gossip."  The information must be truthful and the employee should be candid with the person to whom they are disclosing the serious wrongdoing or gross mismanagement.

When a disclosure is made to or a complaint of reprisal based upon a disclosure to EAC management is filed with the OIG, the OIG will strive to maintain as confidential the identity of the employee.  It is important to remember, however, that the OIG cannot promise complete anonymity.  The very subject matter of the complaint may identify the employee.  Generally, the OIG will request permission from the employee before disclosing his/her identity, except when the Inspector General determines that disclosing the employee’s identity is essential to the investigation.  

The OIG has authority to investigate some, but not all, complaints of reprisal or wrongdoing.  The OIG can investigate claims relating to EAC programs and operations.  However, OIG does not have the authority to investigate equal employment opportunity matters or Hatch Act violations. If you have a complaint regarding equal employment opportunity matters, contact EAC’s EEO Officer.  If you have a complaint regarding a Hatch Act violation, contact the Office of Special Counsel. 

Filing a Complaint

If you believe you have information regarding serious wrongdoing or gross mismanagement, you may disclose that information to the OIG.  Likewise, if you believe that you are being retaliated against for making a disclosure of serious wrongdoing or gross mismanagement to EAC management, you may file a complaint with the OIG. 

When making a disclosure or complaint with the OIG, please be prepared to provide the following information:

  • Your name, home address or email address, and telephone number (protection against reprisal cannot be provided to those persons who remain anonymous);

  • The specific facts that detail the alleged serious wrongdoing or gross mismanagement, including:

    • What wrongdoing is alleged (fraud, abuse, waste, mismanagement, violation of law, rule or regulation)?

    • When did the wrongdoing occur?

    • Where did the wrongdoing occur?

    • Who was involved?

    • What was the motivation for the alleged wrongdoing?

    • What harm was done?

    • Was anything done to remedy the wrongdoing?

  • The person(s) to whom you have disclosed the information, if this is a complaint of reprisal;

  • The name(s) of the person(s) that has/have retaliated or threatened to retaliate against you; The act(s) of retaliation that has/have been taken or threatened;

  • Any other information that will assist the OIG in assessing your compliant or disclosure.

Complaints may be made via mail, telephone, fax, or online. File a compliant via the online Fraud, Waste and Abuse Form.