Federal law prohibits governmental personnel from retaliating against an employee who acts as a whistleblower by reporting suspected waste, fraud or abuse to the OIG. Under the Federal prohibited personnel practices, 5 U.S.C. §2302(b)(8), employees may not “take or fail to take, or threaten to take or fail to take, a personnel action with respect to any employee or applicant for employment” because the person has disclosed information to an OIG which he or she reasonably believes is evidence of (1) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or (2) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, so long as the disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law or Executive Order.
Whistleblower disclosures can save lives as well as billions of taxpayer dollars. They play a critical role in keeping our government honest, efficient and accountable. Recognizing that whistleblowers root out waste, fraud and abuse, and protect public health and safety, federal laws strongly encourage employees to disclose wrongdoing. Federal laws also protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Pursuant to the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, the Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General, has established a Whistleblower Ombudsman to educate SBA employees about prohibitions on retaliation for whistleblowing, as well as employees' rights and remedies if anyone retaliates against them for making a protected disclosure (i.e. "Whistleblowing").
Employees can contact the OIG Ombudsman at OIGOmbudsman@sba.gov. Employees should know that the OIG Ombudsman will not act as a legal representative, agent, or advocate of the employee or former employee.
Office of Special Counsel
Employees who believe that they have been subjected to a prohibited personnel practice, including retaliation for making a disclosure to an OIG, can file a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), which is an independent Federal agency. The complaint can be filed by contacting the OSC Complaints Examining Unit (1-800-872-9855) or by going to OSC’s website, www.osc.gov. If OSC opens an investigation, and finds sufficient evidence to prove a violation, OSC can seek corrective action, disciplinary action, or both.
Merit Systems Protection Board
Employees may also seek corrective action if subjected to any adverse personnel action because of whistleblowing by filing an appeal with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Appeals from adverse actions listed in 5 CFR § 1201.3 can be filed directly with the MSPB. Other appeals can only be filed if the employee first seeks corrective action from OSC. More information can be found at: http://www.mspb.gov/appeals/whistleblower.htm.
Section 1553 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) extends similar protections to employees of non-Federal employers (such as employees of state and local government or contractors) relating to contracts, grants and other Federal disbursements of money appropriated by the Recovery Act (“covered funds”). That statute provides that an employee of any non-Federal employer receiving covered funds may not be discharged, demoted, or otherwise discriminated against as a reprisal for disclosing, including a disclosure made in the ordinary course of an employee’s duties, to an inspector general information that the employee reasonably believes is evidence of: (1) gross mismanagement of an agency contract or grant relating to covered funds; (2) a gross waste of covered funds; (3) a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety related to the implementation or use of covered funds; (4) an abuse of authority related to the implementation or use of covered funds; or (5) a violation of law, rule, or regulation related to an agency contract (including the competition for or negotiation of a contract) or grant, awarded or issued relating to covered funds. The text of the Recovery Act can be obtained at this link: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr1enr/pdf/BILLS-111hr1enr.pdf .
Under the Recovery Act, the OIG has jurisdiction to investigate whistleblower complaints alleging reprisal for protected disclosures relating to Small Business Administration Recovery Act funds. To file a complaint, you can submit your report online or by calling the OIG Hotline toll-free at (800) 767-0385.
For additional information, resources, and training please visit the following links:
Office of Special Counsel YouTube Channel (Several videos on various issues including the Hatch Act)
The New Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 and Prohibited Personnel Practices Video (1.5 hour video from OPM.gov)