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    Subject Term: "Whistleblower protection"

    7 publications with a total of 37 open recommendations including 9 priority recommendations
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The DOD Inspector General should assess the feasibility of collecting additional workload data, such as the amount of direct and indirect labor hours associated with each case, and including such data in future personnel requirements assessments, as appropriate. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The DOD Inspector General should report regularly to Congress on the timeliness of civilian and contractor investigations, including those contractor and subcontractor cases exceeding the 180-day timeliness requirement. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The DOD Inspector General should implement a process to document employee recusals and impairments to independence and incorporate such information into an aggregate-level evaluation of threats to DODIG's independence. (Recommendation 3)

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The DOD Inspector General should establish and clearly communicate a declination policy for nondiscretionary cases in the AI Investigations Manual or other guidance, and align this policy with the intake policy. (Recommendation 4)

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The DOD Inspector General should revise the existing internal controls checklist to include all key case-file documentation and required investigative events. (Recommendation 5)

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The DOD Inspector General should work in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and the inspectors general of the defense intelligence components to establish a process to fully implement the requirements of Directive-Type Memorandum 13-008 so that DODIG (1) receives notifications of all allegations received by the components, (2) reviews all component determinations to not investigate allegations, and (3) reviews all investigations conducted by the components. (Recommendation 6)

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: The DOD Inspector General should develop quality performance measures and enhance existing timeliness performance measures to reflect key attributes of successful performance measures. At minimum, these measures should be clear, quantifiable, and objective, and they should include a baseline assessment of current performance. (Recommendation 7)

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    12 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Inspectors General of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop or clarify existing guidance on the implementation of the pilot program. For example, the guidance should identify specific pilot program processes such as levels of review during an investigation, and where the findings of investigations are to be reported.

    Agency: Department of Commerce: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce OIG concurred with this recommendation. In its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to revise its guidance on whistleblower investigations. We have requested the revised guidance.
    Recommendation: The Inspectors General of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop or clarify existing guidance on the implementation of the pilot program. For example, the guidance should identify specific pilot program processes such as levels of review during an investigation, and where the findings of investigations are to be reported.

    Agency: Department of the Interior: Office of the Inspector General
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior OIG concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. In its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to revise its guidance on whistleblower investigations.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Homeland Security concurred with this recommendation. Officials have said they have taken steps to implement this recommendation with guidance and once GAO is provided with evidence of executing guidance, we will review these efforts to assess whether the recommendation was implemented.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. However, in its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to issue updated acquisition policy.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that the FAR clause 52.203-17 is inserted in new contracts and major modifications as appropriate.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials can determine whether a modification is major and the applicability of the FAR clause, and whether they are making their best efforts to include the clause into existing contracts during major modifications.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken sufficient actions necessary to implement it.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials can determine whether a modification is major and the applicability of the FAR clause, and whether they are making their best efforts to include the clause into existing contracts during major modifications.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. However, in its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to issue updated acquisition policy.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials can determine whether a modification is major and the applicability of the FAR clause, and whether they are making their best efforts to include the clause into existing contracts during major modifications.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials communicate with contractors and subcontractors to help ensure employees are informed about the requirements and protections provided by the whistleblower protection pilot program.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Commerce concurred with this recommendation. Commerce officials have said they plan to issue an Acquisition Notice to the acquisition community encouraging Commerce contracting officials to communicate the program's requirements and protections. We have requested a copy of the acquisition notice.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials communicate with contractors and subcontractors to help ensure employees are informed about the requirements and protections provided by the whistleblower protection pilot program.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, Interior concurred with this recommendation but has not yet taken any actions necessary to implement it. However, in its May 2017 letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency reported that it plans to issue updated acquisition policy.
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Commerce, Homeland Security, Interior, and State should develop policies and processes to help ensure that contracting officials communicate with contractors and subcontractors to help ensure employees are informed about the requirements and protections provided by the whistleblower protection pilot program.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In providing comments on this report, State concurred with this recommendation. Officials have reported they are in the process of drafting a Procurement Information Bulletin related to inserting the clause into relevant contracts.
    Director: Yvonne D. Jones
    Phone: (202) 512-2717

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the accuracy of MSPB's reporting on whistleblower appeals received and closed, the Chairman of MSPB should update MSPB's data entry user guide to include additional guidance and procedures to help improve the identification of appropriate whistleblower appeal closing codes to use.

    Agency: Merit Systems Protection Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the accuracy of MSPB's reporting on whistleblower appeals received and closed, the Chairman of MSPB should add a quality check in MSPB's data analysis and reporting process to better identify discrepancies or other anomalies in data queries and the resulting datasets.

    Agency: Merit Systems Protection Board
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that whistleblower retaliation reports are addressed efficiently and effectively, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of DHS's National Protection and Programs Directorate's (NPPD), the Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection, and the Director of the Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD) to develop a documented process and procedures to address and investigate whistleblower retaliation reports that could include existing practices, such as the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's recommended practices, in developing the process and procedures.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to Infrastructure Security Compliance Division (ISCD) officials, in September 2016 they initiated development of a standard operating procedure for addressing and investigating whistleblower retaliation complaints. ISCD expects to complete a final version of the standard operating procedure by June 2017. According to ISCD officials, the procedure will consider OSHA's guidance, once available, when developing this set of procedures. We will update the status of this recommendation after additional information is received from DHS.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's ability to evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of policies that call for all organizations, including contractors, to embrace a strong safety culture and create a work environment that encourages a questioning attitude by all employees, the Secretary of Energy should develop and implement an independent evaluation process for routinely and accurately measuring contractor employees' willingness to raise safety and other concerns without fear of retaliation. This process should ensure that an independent third party develops, conducts, and consistently applies the evaluation methodology--which should include safeguards that protect anonymity. The process should also enable DOE to oversee and ensure that appropriate corrective actions are taken in response to evaluation results.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. In December 2016, the Office of Enterprise Assessments formed a working group to address our recommendations. According to DOE, as of March 2017 the working group developed a strategy and plan to independently analyze data associated with willingness to raise concerns within contractor organizations at DOE sites with high hazard nuclear facilities. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the organizational placement and practices of DOE- and contractor- provided Employee Concerns Programs (ECP) do not inhibit contractor employees from raising safety and other concerns, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE's ECP order and guidance to (1) require that the organizational placement and practices of contractor ECP's do not compromise or impair their independence, (2) clarify the circumstances under which DOE's ECP is permitted to transfer and refer concerns to contractors, and notify or require approval of the contractor employee raising the concern, and (3) provide criteria for overseeing and evaluating the effectiveness and independence of contractor-provided ECPs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. To address this recommendation, DOE planned to update DOE Order 442.1A, Department of Energy Employee Concerns Program, to (1) address the potential for conflicts of interest that could affect the independence of contractor ECPs, (2) clarify the circumstances under which an employee concern can be referred or transferred from a DOE ECP to a contractor ECP, and (3) specify that the processes already identified in DOE Order 226.1B, Implementation of Department of Energy Oversight Policy, be used as part of the oversight processes for contractor-provided ECPs, to include evaluation of their effectiveness and independence. According to DOE, the draft order was affected by a Presidential Memorandum issued in January 2017, which put a temporary stop to the DOE directives process. We will continue to monitor the status of DOE's implementation of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that Congress has the information it needs as it considers whether or not to make permanent the enhanced whistleblower pilot program and that DOE has assurance that contractor employees have an effective mechanism to seek remedy for unlawful retaliation, the Secretary of Energy should fully evaluate the extent to which the pilot program has been implemented and whether its provisions will mitigate challenges associated with DOE's 708 program. This evaluation should include, at a minimum, an assessment of (1) contractors that have adopted the pilot program and the date they did so; (2) contractors that have not adopted the pilot program and an explanation of why not; (3) cases filed under the pilot program, if any; and (4) the pilot program's potential for mitigating challenges associated with the 708 program.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred in principle with the recommendation. In response to this recommendation, the Office of Hearings and Appeals conducted a review of the Part 708 program that, according to DOE, evaluated each of the areas of concern and compared current part 708 regulations with the pilot program. We will update the status of this recommendation after we review the resulting report.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOE's ability to take enforcement action against unlawful retaliation when appropriate and take action against contractors that create a chilled work environment, the Secretary of Energy should expedite the department's time frames for codifying in regulatory language its policy that retaliation for nuclear safety-related disclosures is a nuclear safety violation and develop a specific schedule for issuing the proposed and final rules.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation and planned to amend its regulations to clarify which DOE regulations constitute DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. DOD planned to expedite the schedule for this rulemaking. We will update the status of this recommendation after we confirm DOE's actions
    Recommendation: To help improve DOE's ability to take enforcement action against unlawful retaliation when appropriate and take action against contractors that create a chilled work environment, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE's Office of Enforcement to routinely collect information from the Department of Labor and other sources regarding substantiated cases of retaliation and take appropriate enforcement action.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE, the Office of Enforcement has revised its internal implementing procedure to require that a review of DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals whistleblower cases, Department of Labor complaints submitted under the Energy Reorganization Act, and an online legal research service (for court decisions) be conducted each quarter to identify cases wherein a DOE contractor may have retaliated against an employee for reporting a safety concern and evaluate the information for potential enforcement action. We will update the status of this recommendation after we review the updated procedure.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOE's ability to take enforcement action against unlawful retaliation when appropriate and take action against contractors that create a chilled work environment, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE's Integrated Safety Management policy and guidance to clarify what constitutes evidence of a chilled work environment and define the appropriate steps DOE should take to hold contractors accountable for creating a chilled work environment.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. DOE officials said that the department was revising the Integrated Safety Management policy but the revisions are currently on hold indefinitely along with all other actions to publish new, or update existing departmental directives in response to two Presidential Executive Orders issued in January and February 2017 that directed federal agencies to, among other things, reduce and reform agency regulations.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the military whistleblower reprisal investigation process and oversight of such investigations, the Secretary of Defense should work in coordination with the Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG) to direct the services to follow standardized investigation stages and issue guidance clarifying how the stages are defined.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2016, this recommendation remains open. Officials from DOD Inspector General, Whistleblower Reprisal Investigations Directorate provided GAO with an update to this recommendation August 11, 2016. Although DOD concurred with this recommendation in the draft and final report, they stated that DODIG is not empowered in its oversight capacity to direct the services to follow standardized stages. However, these same officials noted that they are currently working with the military services through an established working group to standardize investigation stages and develop guidance for its implementation across the services by the end of 2016. If completed, we believe that these actions will meet the intent of our recommendation by helping to DODIG to better ensure consistent program implementation and equal treatment of all servicemember complaints.
    Director: Maurer, Diana C
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    8 open recommendations
    including 8 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that FBI whistleblowers have access to recourse under DOJ's regulations should the individuals experience retaliation, and to minimize the possibility of discouraging future potential whistleblowers, the Attorney General should clarify in all current relevant DOJ guidance and communications, including FBI guidance and communications, to whom FBI employees may make protected disclosures and, further, explicitly state that employees will not have access to recourse if they experience retaliation for reporting alleged wrongdoing to someone not designated in DOJ's regulations.

    Agency: Department of Justice
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that complainants receive the periodic updates that they are entitled to and need to determine next steps for their complaint, such as whether or not to seek corrective action from OARM, Counsel, DOJ-OPR should tailor its new case management system or otherwise develop an oversight mechanism to capture information on the office's compliance with regulatory requirements and, further, use that information to monitor and identify opportunities to improve DOJ-OPR's compliance with regulatory requirements.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Professional Responsibility
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM) and Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) should provide parties with an estimated time frame for returning each decision, including whether the complaint meets threshold regulatory requirements, merits, and appeals. If the time frame shifts, OARM and ODAG should timely communicate a revised estimate to the parties.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management (OARM) and Office of the Deputy Attorney General (ODAG) should provide parties with an estimated time frame for returning each decision, including whether the complaint meets threshold regulatory requirements, merits, and appeals. If the time frame shifts, OARM and ODAG should timely communicate a revised estimate to the parties.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Justice Management Division: Human Resources and Administration: Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of the Deputy Attorney General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Justice Management Division: Human Resources and Administration: Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Professional Responsibility
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has not responded to GAO requests for information on any efforts DOJ has taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that DOJ is fulfilling its commitment to improving efficiency in handling these complaints, DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (DOJ-OPR), Office of the Inspector General, OARM, and ODAG should jointly assess the impact of ongoing and planned efforts to reduce the duration of FBI whistleblower retaliation complaints throughout the entire investigation, adjudication, and appeal process to ensure that these changes are in fact shortening total complaint length, without sacrificing quality.

    Agency: Department of Justice: Office of Inspector General
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of March 1, 2017, GAO has not received information from the Department of Justice about any steps taken to address this recommendation.