Whistleblowers:

Management of the Program to Protect Trucking Company Employees Against Reprisal

GGD-88-123: Published: Sep 22, 1988. Publicly Released: Oct 25, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) management of the Whistleblower Protection Program for trucking company employees who allege safety violations by employers.

GAO found that OSHA: (1) has not devoted enough management attention to the Whistleblower Protection Program; (2) did not fully comply with the statutory requirement that it investigate and issue findings on whistleblower complaints within 60 days; (3) inadequately publicized the program; and (4) plans to have a new management information system in operation by January 1989, which will provide direct access to data maintained in OSHA regional offices. GAO also found that the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Office of Motor Carriers (OMC) and OSHA did not have procedures to provide OMC with information from complaints alleging motor carrier safety violations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OSHA increased publicity since issuance of the GAO report by developing a poster for use in trucking companies to help publicize the whistleblower protection program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health to develop and implement a better, more comprehensive public information program and mechanism to ensure that trucking company employees are aware of their rights and protections under the act.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As a pilot program to improve investigation timeliness, OSHA realigned field resources conducting 11(c)/405 investigations. The impact on 405 investigations was substantial. Two additional pilot programs have been started as variations to this one and are intended to manage existing investigator resources more effectively. New investigators were hired to handle the intake of complaints.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health to identify the problems, factors, and conditions that are causing delays in case processing and take action to correct them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOT implemented new procedures for obtaining whistleblower complaint information from OSHA. Also, according to OSHA, new streamlined procedures for handling federal complaints in states should free existing resources to spend time on federal cases.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should develop, in cooperation with OSHA, a procedure for obtaining information from whistleblower complaints alleging motor carrier safety violations and use the information as a factor to consider in identifying and following up on motor carriers alleged to have violated federal laws and regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OSHA has implemented a system to track section 405 cases.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should direct the Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health to ensure that the management information system (MIS) being developed will provide accurate and up-to-date information on the current status of Section 405 cases.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOT implemented new procedures for obtaining whistleblower information from OSHA.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should develop, in cooperation with OSHA, a procedure for obtaining information from whistleblower complaints alleging motor carrier safety violations and use the information as a factor to consider in deciding what penalties to impose on motor carriers who have committed repeated or serious violations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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