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Whistleblower Protection

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Two statutes which effect whistleblowers are described below. One relates to Federal employees, and the other to Contractor and Subcontractor personnel. Highlights of the statutory provisions are provided below.

Federal Employees

Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman

The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, (WPEA) required each Inspector General (IG) of a Federal agency to designate a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman (WPO) to educate agency employees about prohibitions on retaliation for protected disclosures and rights and remedies against such retaliation.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory (NRC) Inspector General, who also serves as the IG for the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB), has designated Maryann Grodin, the General Counsel to the Inspector General, as the NRC and DNFSB Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman (WPO).

Contact Information for the WPO

The NRC/DNFSB Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman may be contacted at (301) 415-1146 or by e-mail at whistleblower_ombudsman@nrc.gov.

Role of the WPO

It is the role of the WPO to educate NRC and DNFSB employees about prohibitions on retaliation for protected disclosures, as well as the rights and remedies against retaliation for protected disclosures.

The WPO is not permitted to act as a legal representative, agent or advocate for employees or former employees. Also, the WPEA does not provide for employee confidentiality. Individuals who wish to remain anonymous may use the OIG Hotline.

Federal Employee Rights Under the WPEA

Federal law prohibits NRC and DNFSB managers from retaliating against employees who provide information they reasonably believe evidences:

  • violation of any law, rule, or regulation;
  • gross mismanagement;
  • gross waste of funds;
  • abuse of authority, or
  • substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.

An Agency official's threat to take, propose, or not take a personnel action because of whistleblowing activities constitutes a prohibited personnel practice. Federal employees are covered if they make a whistleblower disclosure to the Office of Special Counsel, the Inspector General, or an Agency supervisor.

Federal employees are also protected if they make such a disclosure to other individuals or organizations, such as a congressional committee or the media, provided that the disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law and the information does not have to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign affairs.

Office of Special Counsel

For detailed information on employee rights, protections, and reporting rights procedures, contact the Office of Special Counsel or telephone 202-254-3640.

In order to expand employee knowledge of both the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), the Office of Inspector General has applied to participate in the Office of Special Counsel's (OSC) 2302(c) Certification Program.  OSC's 2302(c) Certification Program allows federal agencies to meet the statutory obligation to inform their workforces about the rights and remedies available to them under WPEA and related civil service laws.  See the details of the NRC OIG 2302(c) Certification Plan. (NOTE:  The DNFSB Certification is an independent responsibility of the Board.)

Contractor and Subcontractor Employees

Pilot Program

The pilot program under Section 828 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (NDAA) prohibits contractors and subcontractors from retaliating against their employees for disclosing information the employees "reasonably believe" is evidence of any of the following:

  • gross mismanagement of a federal contract or grant;
  • gross waste of federal funds;
  • abuse of authority relating to a federal contract or grant; or
  • violation of law, rule, or regulation related to a federal contract or grant; or
  • substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

Reporting and Investigation

A NDAA covered whistleblower may submit a complaint to the Inspector General (IG) of the agency no more than 3 years after the date of the alleged retaliation and the IG must investigate the complaint unless the IG determines that the complaint is frivolous, fails to allege a violation under the program, or has been previously addressed in another formal proceeding. The program details timelines for investigation and responsive action; remedies and damages, as well as the availability of federal court appeals.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, October 23, 2014