Whistleblower Protection:

Continuing Impediments to Protection of Military Members

NSIAD-95-23: Published: Feb 2, 1995. Publicly Released: Feb 2, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the reprisal protection given to military whistleblowers, focusing on whether: (1) the system provides effective means for the investigation and disposition of alleged whistleblower reprisals; and (2) service members have a mechanism to challenge alleged reprisals that occurred before enactment of the whistleblower act.

GAO found that: (1) only those whistleblowers who report alleged reprisals to the Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General (IG) are protected under the act; (2) service members who report alleged reprisals to a service or local IG are not fully protected; (3) few service members have reported the use of mental health evaluations as reprisals for whistleblowing; (4) the services have not issued required regulations to ensure that whistleblowers are protected from reprisal; (5) the services have not adequately informed service members of the proper procedures for filing allegations of reprisals, particularly to DOD IG; and (6) a service member who was subject to reprisal prior to the whistleblower act can seek relief from the Board for the Correction of Military Records (BCMR) if the request is made within 3 years after the member discovers the error or the Board determines that the case has merit.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A revised DOD Directive was issued on August 12, 1995.

    Recommendation: To ensure that all whistleblowers are afforded the type of protections provided under 10 U.S.C. 1034 and section 546, the Secretary of Defense should revise DOD Directive 7050.6 to require that: (1) the military service and local IGs refer allegations of reprisal against whistleblowers to DOD IG if an initial screening indicates that an allegation may have substantial merit; and (2) DOD IG uses the same procedures for referred cases of reprisal allegations as it uses for cases it investigates or delegates for investigation and approves all resulting reports.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The DOD IG took action to ensure that the service secretaries promptly issue regulations to implement DOD Directive 6490.1 and Section 546.

    Recommendation: To ensure that all whistleblowers are afforded the type of protections provided under 10 U.S.C. 1034 and section 546, the Secretary of Defense should direct the service secretaries to expeditiously develop and implement regulations establishing clear and specific procedures related to whistleblower reprisals, including mental health evaluations, as required by DOD directives.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Directives were issued, and a poster will be distributed throughout the services.

    Recommendation: To ensure that all whistleblowers are afforded the type of protections provided under 10 U.S.C. 1034 and section 546, the Secretary of Defense should instruct the service secretaries and DOD IG to develop strategies to ensure that service members are informed of their rights, the extent of protection afforded, and the proper filing procedures relating to reprisal allegations for whistleblowing.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An Army modification was approved for implementation on May 10, 1995, and forwarded to the Navy and Air Force on May 25, 1995.

    Recommendation: To ensure that all whistleblowers are afforded the type of protections provided under 10 U.S.C. 1034 and section 546, the Secretary of Defense should instruct BCMR to establish a code or a subcode within the BCMR index system for identifying cases and decisions involving whistleblower reprisal and involuntary mental health referrals and evaluations, as administratively required.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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