DHS employees, contractors, subcontractors, and grantees perform an important service by reporting what they reasonably believe to be evidence of wrongdoing, and the law protects them from threatened or actual reprisal for doing so. The OIG’s Whistleblower Protection program carries out a number of key functions, including:
Through the work of the DHS Whistleblower Ombudsman, educating DHS employees and managers about prohibitions against retaliation against employees who have made or are contemplating making a protected disclosure, and about the remedies that may be available for employees retaliated against for protected disclosures;
The information and linked materials accessible from this page are intended to serve as educational tools for DHS employees and supervisors about whistleblower protections.
DHS WHISTLEBLOWER OMBUDSMAN
James Gaughran, DHS Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman cannot act as a legal representative, agent, or advocate for DHS employees. If you have questions or concerns regarding specific situations, it may be advisable to seek help or representation from a union representative, if applicable, or from outside legal counsel.
WHO IS A WHISTLEBLOWER?
May be an employee, former employee, applicant, or contractor who discloses information that she/he reasonably believes is evidence of:
- Violation of any law, rule or regulation;
- Gross mismanagement;
- Gross waste of funds;
- Substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
HOW TO FILE A REPORT OR A COMPLAINT OF RETALIATION
To file a complaint with the OIG, please submit the complaint through the OIG Hotline.
If an adverse personnel action has been taken, or threatened against you, in reprisal for making a disclosure or wrongdoing within your DHS agency, to the OIG or elsewhere; you may submit a complaint, to the OIG Hotline or the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. If you submit a complaint to the OIG, we will review the allegation, to ensure it is appropriate for DHS OIG to investigate or refer the complaint to the suitable agency.
In certain instances, an employee who has experienced retaliation because of a protected communication may file an appeal directly with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Personnel actions that are directly appealable to the MSPB include adverse actions, retirement appeals, performance-based removals or reductions in grade, denials of within-grade salary increases, reduction-in-force actions, and denials of restoration or employment rights.
PROTECTION FOR EMPLOYEES WITH ACCESS TO CLASSIFIED INFORMATION
Presidential Policy Directive-19 (PPD-19),“Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information,” required DHS and other Federal agencies to establish a review process that enables an employee to appeal an action affecting the employee’s eligibility for access to classified information, if the employee believes the action was taken in reprisal for a protected disclosure of fraud, waste, and abuse. As part of the process, the employee may request the OIG to review the alleged reprisal.
PROTECTION FOR CONTRACTOR/SUBCONTRACTOR
Section 828 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 extended whistleblower protections to employees of government contractors, subcontractors, or grant recipients.
The law prohibits reprisal against employees of contractors, subcontractors, or grantees for coming forward with information that they reasonably believe is evidence of gross mismanagement of a Federal contract or grant, a gross waste of Federal funds, and abuse of authority relating to a Federal contract or grant, a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or a violation of law, rule, or regulation related to a Federal contract. Information about the program (41 U.S.C Section 4712).
A contractor employee who reasonably believes that she/he has been subjected to prohibited reprisal may submit a complaint through the OIG Hotline.
More information for DHS contractors, subcontractors, and grantees is available here.
PROTECTION FOR UNIFORMED COAST GUARD MEMBERS
Protections are available to members of the armed forces under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act (MWPA, 10 U.S.C. Section 1034). The MWPA requires uniformed members of the Coast Guard to report allegations of retaliation for whistleblowing to the DHS OIG no more than one year after learning of the retaliatory personnel action. You may report an allegation of retaliation through the OIG Hotline.
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