Whistleblower Protection and Ombudsman Program




U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) employees perform a vital role in supporting the Office of Inspector General's (OIG) audit and investigative responsibilities when they disclose a violation of law, rule or regulation, gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority and a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. Whistleblower protection laws exist to protect employees who fear or suffer reprisal for making a disclosure.

In a 2010 report to the President and Congress, the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) acknowledged the challenges inherent in whistleblower protection and outlined the difficulties a whistleblower faces in this complex area of Federal personnel law. 
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 paves a smoother path for whistleblowers and yet, in reality, challenges will still exist. The OIG is committed to meeting those challenges, within its statutory authority, through an informed and equipped constituency and will work tirelessly to influence the DOI to sustain a culture that values whistleblowers and opposes retaliation.

The OIG Whistleblower Protection and Ombudsman Program (WBPOP) ensures that employees who disclose information are fully informed of their rights, responsibilities and remedies under anti-retaliation laws, and provides advisory services and support to whistleblowers which may include a formal OIG investigation. We will train DOI officials and managers on best practices to prevent retaliation and advise them of the consequences of retaliation. Preventing retaliation is a hallmark of the WBPOP program and experience demonstrates that prevention is the harvest of education, advisory support, investigative, and audit oversight.

Learn more about how to file an online whistleblower complaint.

What to Expect When You File a Reprisal Complaint with the OIG WBPOP

Each complaint is factually and procedurally unique and will be evaluated case by case.


  • In every case we will educate the employee on their rights, responsibilities and remedies under whistleblower protection laws.
  • In every case we will respect and listen carefully to the whistleblower and engage in candid conversations to promote the efficiency of the service and anti-retaliation.
  • The OIG AIG for WBPOP does not provide legal advice or representation to whistleblowers.

The OIG WBPP may also respond to a whistleblower complaint in several ways:


  • Conduct an informal or formal inquiry to determine if reprisal is threatened or actual;
  • If initial fact finding demonstrates potential reprisal, advise the appropriate Assistant Secretary or Bureau Director to intervene or alert them to the possible consequences of retaliation;
  • Inform the employee of alternate avenues for relief;
  • Refer the employee to the Employee Assistance Program;
  • Assist the employee in seeking formal relief through the agencies with statutory jurisdiction to investigate, prosecute and order corrective action and discipline (United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and MSPB.

Employee Rights and Responsibilities Related to Disclosures of Alleged Wrongdoing

  • Employees who disclose wrongdoing must provide sufficient information for the OIG to commence an inquiry. This is particularly important when the employee requests confidentiality.
  • Employees must be candid with the AIG for WBPOP and OIG investigators or to others to whom they disclose alleged wrongdoing.
  • Employees are reporting parties and not investigators.
  • An employee's right to protection does not extend immunity for the employee's own misconduct.
  • Not every disclosure creates a right under whistleblower protection laws.
  • The OSC and MSPB have formal statutory jurisdiction over whistleblower complaints and are the final formal arbiters of whether reprisal occurred.
  • EEO reprisal complaints are processed through the DOI Office of Civil Rights.

Filing a Whistleblower Reprisal Complaint with the OIG

If you believe you are being threatened with retaliation or have been retaliated against for disclosing alleged wrongdoing or for engaging in protected activity, you may file an online complaint.

Upon receipt and review of your complaint, you will be contacted by the Associate Inspector General for Whistleblower Protection.

If you do not have access to a computer, you may also call 202-208-6460 or send a fax to 202-208-6062. Please be prepared to provide the following information:

1. Your name, email address, and telephone number;
2. Specific facts that support your complaint;
3. The name(s) of the person(s) who have retaliated or have threatened to retaliate against you;
4. Any information that would assist the OIG in assessing your complaint of reprisal; and
5. Whether you wish to remain anonymous.

Training Requests

Please submit a training request form to request training for specific audiences.

Resources


Noteworthy News - Articles of interest and case law updates
Office of Special Counsel

Merit Systems Protection Board
DOI DM Integrity of Scientific and Scholarly Activities - 305 DM 3


Last Updated: 04/23/2014