Whistleblower Protection


Whistleblower Information
Whistleblower Information

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has 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 involving programs or employees of the Department of State or the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), please submit it to the Department of State Office of Inspector General Hotline via

Federal law prohibits agencies from reprising against employees who have made such a complaint or disclosed information to an Inspector General.

The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 required Inspectors General to designate a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman. The Inspector General named Jeff McDermott as the Whistleblower Ombudsman for the Department of State and the BBG.  He is available to discuss the protections against retaliation and how to make a protected disclosure, but he cannot act as your legal representative or advocate.  You may contact him at WPEAOmbuds@stateoig.gov.

Watch our informational video
"KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
WHEN REPORTING WRONG"

Please also check out OIG’s hotline and whistleblower protection poster.


What protection is there for whistleblowers?

The law protects individuals from 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.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal agency charged with investigating and prosecuting violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act. Federal employees, former federal employees, and applicants for federal employment may file a complaint with the OSC if they believe they have suffered reprisal for engaging in whistleblowing activity. 

In 2013, Congress created a pilot program to ensure that employees of federal contractors, sub-contractors, and grantees are provided with similar protections.  However, the Office of Inspector General for the relevant agency investigates allegations of retaliation from such employees.  If you are an employee of a Department of State or BBG contractor, sub-contractor, or grantee and you believe you were subject to retaliation for making a protected disclosure, please fill out the form here to request an OIG investigation.


Information for Contractor and Grantee Employees

In March 2015, the Office of Inspector General published an evaluation of the use of confidentiality agreements by Department of State contractors.  This report also described some best practices to encourage employees to report fraud, waste, or abuse.  These practices include:

1)    An internal hotline that allows employees to anonymously or confidentially report fraud or violations of law or company policy
2)    Display of posters with the hotline information in contractor workspaces
3)    Incorporation of the protections for whistleblowers in the Federal Acquisition Regulation into employee handbooks or policies
4)    Policies that notify employees of their right to contact the government directly
5)    Incorporation of a statement into a code of ethics or an employee handbook that it is corporate policy to cooperate with government audits and investigations

Other useful tools to encourage employees to report fraud, waste, or abuse include:

•    The hotline poster designed by the Office of Inspector General
•    The educational video on whistleblowing produced by the Office of Inspector General

Questions about the rights and protections afforded to whistleblowers may be directed to the Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman for the Department of State and the BBG.  You may contact him at: WPEAOmbuds@stateoig.gov.


Further Resources

1. Office of Special Counsel (OSC)

2. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB)

3. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)