The information on this page includes educational materials regarding Whistleblower Protection. If you wish to file a complaint, please contact the OIG Hotline directly.
Since the enactment of the Inspector General Act in 1978, Inspectors General had the mandate to receive and investigate complaints or information from employees concerning the possible violations of law, rules, or regulations, or mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority or a substantial and specific danger to the public health and safety. If you have such information or believe that you qualify as a whistleblower, submit the information or complaint to the Department of State Office of Inspector General Hotline at the Hotline website http://oig.state.gov/hotline, via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 202-647-3320 or 800-409-9926. Management also has been prohibited from taking personnel action reprising against employees who have made such a complaint or disclosed information to an Inspector General.
The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 strengthened and improved protection for the rights of Federal employees by mandating that employees who are whistleblowers should not suffer adverse consequences as a result of prohibited personnel practices for making protected disclosures.
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 required Inspectors General to designate a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman. The Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman is to educate agency employees but cannot act as a legal representative, agent, or advocate of the employee or former employee whistleblower.
A protected disclosure includes any disclosure of information that an employee, former employee, or employment applicant reasonably believes evidences
that is made to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the Inspector General, or an employee designated by the head of the agency to receive such a disclosure. If you know of fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, or a substantial and specific danger to public safety or health in Department of State or Broadcasting Board of Governors programs and operations, report it to the OIG Hotline at http://oig.state.gov/hotline or OSC at http://osc.gov.
The Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (ICIG) maintains a Hotline for national security whistleblowers at http://www.dni.gov/index.php/about-this-site/contact-the-ig.
What protection is there for whistleblowers?
The basic premise of whistleblower protection is that the whistleblower does not suffer reprisal for reporting potential misconduct or alleged criminal activities. Reprisal can come in the form of a prohibited personnel practice which occurs when a person with authority takes, fails to take or threatens to take a personnel action against an employee because of the employee’s protected disclosure and can include details, transfers, reassignments, and significant changes in duties, responsibilities, or working conditions.
In the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, Congress established that the primary role of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) was to protect employees, particularly whistleblowers, from prohibited personnel practices including reprisal for disclosures as well as acting in the interests of employees who seek assistance from OSC. OSC may be contacted at: http://www.osc.gov.
In certain cases, an employee who has experienced retaliation because of a protected communication may file an appeal directly with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). As noted in 5 C.F.R. § 1201.3, personnel actions that are directly appealable to the MSPB include adverse actions (removals, suspensions that exceed 14 days, reductions in grade or pay, and furloughs for 30 days or less), retirement appeals, performance-based removals or reductions in grade, denials of within-grade salary increases, reduction-in-force actions, and denials of restoration or reemployment rights. The MSPB may be contacted at: http://www.mspb.gov.
Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman
Under the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 (WPEA), the Inspector General has designated a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman to educate agency employees who have or are thinking about making a protected disclosure about the rights and remedies against retaliation for making the protected disclosure. Employees and former employees need to be aware that, per the WPEA, the Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman cannot act as their legal representative, agent, or advocate. The Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman may be contacted at: OIGWPEAOmbuds@state.gov.
Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information
On July 8, 2013, in accordance with Presidential Policy Directive-19 (PPD-19), “Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information,” the Department announced a new policy aimed at enhancing whistleblower protections for employees with access to classified national security information to safely report fraud, waste, and abuse. PPD-19 required the Department and other agencies to establish a review process that enables the 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 Department of State Office of Inspector General review of the alleged reprisal within five days of the time limit provided in 12 FAM 234.1(b)(4). Under 12 FAM 234.1(b), within 10 days of the decision to deny or revoke the security clearance, the employee can request the investigative file or other documents. Under 12 FAM 234.1(b)(4), the employee can submit a reply to the decision within 30 days of receipt of the investigative file or requested documents.
Whistleblowers Who Are Employees of Contractors, Subcontractors or Grantees
June 30, 2013 marked the initiation of a new process for review of whistleblower reprisal complaints alleged by employees of contractors, subcontractors, and grantees. The new process which requires investigation of such complaints by the OIG is illustrated in the flowchart below:
Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Revisions
The Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is in the process of reviewing the draft revision to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) implementing the requirements of Section 828, Public Law 112-239. Public Law 112-239 can be viewed at:
The following links provide the most current information on the draft FAR revision:
1. Office of Special Counsel
OSC’s pamphlet, “Know Your Rights When Reporting Wrongs” and other informational materials: http://osc.gov/outreach.htm.
OSC training video on Federal Whistleblower Rights and Protections: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzf2pboRaoQ.
OSC YouTube link to training videos on various topics, including other Prohibited Personnel Practices, the Hatch Act and the OSD ADR Program: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbOqIa1xgmWav8540O_BwdQ?feature=watch.
2. Merit Systems Protection Board
November 2011 Report on “Blowing the Whistle: Barriers to Federal Employees Making Disclosures”: http://www.mspb.gov/netsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=662503&version=664475&application=ACROBAT
September 2010 Report on “Whistleblowing Protections for Federal Employees”: http://www.mspb.gov/netsearch/viewdocs.aspx?docnumber=557972&version=559604&application=ACROBAT
MSPB Mini-briefings on topics including “Prohibited Personnel Practices” and “Blowing the Whistle”: http://www.mspb.gov/training.htm.
3. OIG Hotline
OIG Hotline poster: http://oig.state.gov/documents/organization/126343.pdf.
OIG Hotline Bookmark: http://oig.state.gov/documents/organization/14952.pdf.
4. Office of Personnel Management
Training video on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act and Prohibited Personnel Practices:
This site is managed by the Office of Inspector General and the Bureau of Public Affairs as a source of information from the Office of Inspector General. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.