Before contacting the Hotline, please read the following information which includes important information such as who to contact for matters outside the VA OIG's jurisdiction, confidential/anonymous complaints, and what information to include in your complaint:
Key Steps for an Employee Disclosure
The Inspector General Act authorizes the OIG to receive and investigate complaints or information from a VA employee concerning the possible existence of an activity constituting a violation of law, rule, or regulation or gross mismanagement of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. The IG Act grants the OIG access to all agency records and prohibits threatening or taking a personnel action against an employee or applicant who honestly discloses information to the OIG. 5 U.S.C. App. § 6 and 7. Implementing regulations for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) specifically authorize disclosure of HIPAA-protected information by whistleblowers reporting to a health oversight agency, such as the VA OIG. 45 C.F.R. 164.512(d).
If employees need to send information to OIG, you must ensure that you comply with VA policy regarding the transmission of any sensitive information, including personally identifiable information (PII) and HIPAA-protected information, regardless of whether you send the information by mail, fax, or electronically. For email specifically, this means using encrypted VA email. In addition, you must be cognizant of whether the individuals or entity receiving the information is entitled to the information under applicable statutes. Remember, while the Whistleblower Protection Act shields employees from retaliation as related to providing protected disclosures, it does not allow an individual to violate laws, regulations, or policy while engaging in such activities.
To keep information secure, employee complainants should send sensitive information to the OIG using encrypted VA email or make other arrangements by contacting the Hotline (800-488-8244) or other designated OIG staff.
- What is the VA OIG Hotline?
- What types of common complaints are not accepted by the VA OIG Hotline?
- Can complainants receive confidentiality or remain anonymous?
- What should be included in a complaint?
- How may Federal Acquisition Regulation 52.203-13 issues be reported?
- What happens when complaints are received by the VA OIG Hotline?
- How are Hotline case referrals processed and resolved?
- What are the privacy safeguards concerning Hotline case referrals?
- Can you obtain the status and the results of Hotline complaints?
- Can you appeal a Hotline complaint decision?
The Inspector General Act of 1978 gave the OIG Hotline the authority to accept complaints from VA employees and the general public concerning criminal activity, fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement of VA programs and operations. The Hotline Division (53E) is a component of the OIG Office of Management and Administration, and provides input for the reactive investigations, audits and inspections performed by the OIG. As a result, the OIG Hotline helps ensure the proper and efficient use of taxpayer dollars and Government resources for the care of our Nation's veterans.
The Hotline does not accept complaints that are unrelated to programs and operations of the Department of Veterans Affairs nor that are addressed in another legal or administrative forum:
|Type of Complaint||Who You Should Contact|
|Claim for VA disability and pension benefits, and ratings, appeals, or home loan issues||
Veterans Benefits Administration
|Claim for VA education benefits||
Veterans Benefits Administration
|Patient health care dispute||Patient Advocate at your local VA medical facility|
|Tort claim or other legal issue/case/claim||
Local VA Regional Counsel office
|VA billing issues - Compliance and Business Integrity||1-866-842-4357|
|Litigation matters||Private counsel; applicable court|
|Employee grievances, unfair labor practices, union matters||Local union representative
Federal Labor Relations Authority
|VA Employee Whistleblower retaliation issues||
U.S. Office of Special Counsel
|Whistleblower disclosures not related to the VA||
U.S. Office of Special Counsel
|Discrimination and EEO complaints for VA employees, former VA employees, and applicants for VA positions||
VA Office of Resolution Management
|Discrimination and complaints related to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)||
U.S. Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service
U.S. Office of Special Counsel
|Personnel actions/adverse action appeals/MSPB matters||U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board|
|Disagreement with law or other political dispute||Your elected legislative official|
|Whistleblower reprisal against employees of VA contractors or grantees||VA OIG Hotline|
The complainant may remain confidential (i.e., known only to the VA OIG), or anonymous (i.e., unknown even to the VA OIG). If the complainant chooses to remain anonymous, VA OIG cannot obtain additional information on the allegation (e.g., testimonial or documentary evidence; identity of witnesses), and also cannot inform the complainant as to what action VA OIG has taken on the complaint. Confidential status allows further communication between VA OIG and the complainant after the original complaint is received. It is more advantageous to both OIG and the complainant than anonymous status.
The Inspector General Act (IG Act) protects a complainant who chooses to remain confidential. The IG Act prevents disclosure of that complainant's identity outside the VA OIG unless the VA Inspector General, on rare occasions, determines that release of the complainant's identity is essential to investigate the allegation. To avoid disclosure, the confidential employee complainant should provide a contact address and telephone number off VA facility premises.
While the VA OIG cannot force any complainant to reveal their identity or waive confidentiality, VA OIG may not be able to investigate certain complaints without a disclosure or release of identity.
Complaints should include sufficient information for the OIG to determine whether the complaint warrants review or investigation by the OIG, such as:
- The particular VA facility or office involved.
- The identity of the wrongdoer(s) and victim(s).
- The alleged legal or policy violation(s) or other misconduct.
- The effect of the wrongdoing, such as dollars lost, delay produced, etc.
- The date(s) when the event(s) occurred.
- The identity of any witness(es) to the event(s).
- Copies of relevant documents that support the allegation.
- Whether anyone else has already reviewed the allegation.
- An address and telephone number of a named complainant and whether the complainant wishes confidentiality.
To file a mandatory disclosure as required by the FAR clause, please click the report link below to notify the VA OIG in writing whenever the contractor has evidence that a principal, employee, agent, or subcontractor of the contractor has committed a violation of the Civil False Claims Act or a violation of Federal criminal law involving fraud, conflict of interest, bribery, or gratuity violations in connection with the award, performance, or closeout of a contract or any related subcontract. The individual making the report must be an officer or manager empowered to speak for the company when filing this report.
Please include a detailed description of the facts and circumstances surrounding the reported activities, including the evidence forming the basis of this report, the names of the individuals involved, dates, location, how the matter was discovered, potential witness(es) and their involvement, and any corrective action taken by the company. Also include the contract number and whether you are the prime contractor or a sub contractor.
The Hotline logs all complaints. If the complaint lacks sufficient detail for OIG to determine a course of action, OIG will ask the complainant, if the complainant has provided contact information or is a telephone caller, for more information. The Hotline then does one of the following with respect to complaints it receives:
Takes no further action. The OIG will take no further action on matters which are not within VA's or OIG's jurisdiction, are included in the above list of complaints the Hotline cannot accept, or are too trivial, stale, or vague to warrant further review. For example, anonymous complaints that lack sufficient information are too vague to warrant further review. Approximately two-thirds of Hotline contacts fall into this category.
Makes a non-case referral. The OIG will refer certain matters directly to the appropriate VA or non-VA facility or office if the allegation appears to warrant some action on that facility's or office's part. For example, an allegation of serious misconduct involving another Federal or state agency will be sent to that agency for appropriate action. For VA matters, non-case referrals are made for complaints that do not rise to the level of a case, but OIG believes some VA action appears necessary. OIG does not require a response from the facility after they have reviewed the case. Approximately 5 percent of Hotline contacts result in this category of referral.
Opens a Hotline case. The OIG will open cases for further review for serious allegations of criminal activity, fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. The nature of the allegations will determine whether OIG will refer the case to another OIG component or make an external referral to a non-OIG facility or office. Hotline cases are assigned an HL case number preceded by the fiscal year and other identifier, such as 2002-09876-HL-0123. Approximately 5 percent of Hotline contacts result in this category of referral
Each Hotline case will be referred to another OIG component (i.e., the Office of Investigations, the Office of Audit, or the Office of Healthcare Inspections), or to a non-OIG VA program office, (i.e., VA Medical Center, a VA Regional Office, or a staff office) for a review of the allegations. Some cases require multiple referrals to different offices because of the varied nature of the allegations. OIG components that review the allegations will respond to the Hotline Division according to their individual office policies and procedures.
Non-OIG VA offices that are assigned Hotline cases are responsible for conducting an independent review and promptly reporting back to the Hotline Division on the findings of their review. Non-OIG VA offices should respond to their Hotline case referrals within 60 days, unless advised otherwise. Shorter deadlines may be set for high profile and Congressional cases. The Hotline Division monitors the progress of referred cases, and may grant brief extensions of time to complete a case if justified by good faith efforts to review the issues or a legitimate delay.
All responses to Hotline case referrals to non-OIG offices must contain the following information:
- Evidence of independent review by an official separate from and at a higher grade than the subject/alleged wrongdoer.
- Specific review of all allegations.
- Findings as to each allegation as to whether the allegation was substantiated ("founded") or unsubstantiated ("unfounded").
- Description of any corrective action taken or proposed as a result of any substantiated allegation, such as change in procedures, disciplinary or adverse action taken, etc.
- Supporting documentation for the review, such as copies of pertinent documents, a summary report of the board of inquiry, etc.
- Designation of a point of contact if additional information is required by OIG.
If a summary of the review and pertinent records are provided, it is not necessary to provide to OIG copies of voluminous transcripts of interviews or the entire claims folder or medical chart involved. However, such materials should be available if OIG subsequently requests them within the time period during which such records must be maintained.
Hotline cases and complaints are official records covered by the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. §552a. Hotline case referrals are provided to non-OIG offices for review and response on an official-need-to-know basis only, and must not be released to the subjects of Hotline complaints or cases.
Although the subject of a complaint may provide a response during the course of the review, they are not authorized by OIG to receive a copy of the allegations or the case referral. The response to the case referral is part of the OIG Hotline file, and its release is subject to OIG approval.
The OIG will attempt to provide a receipt for all complaints it receives in writing. OIG cannot respond when no email, name, address, or return telephone number is provided, as in the case of an anonymous complaint. When a Hotline case is opened, OIG notifies the complainant, if known, in writing. The complainant is also notified when the Hotline case is closed.
Due to privacy and identity concerns, the Hotline cannot respond to telephone or written requests for status of cases, including whether complaints and written materials have been received. If a complainant wants to confirm whether OIG received material he or she submitted, a complainant should either fax written material, mail it via return receipt requested, or ship it via express delivery service. Since status requests received by Hotline take staff time and resources away from processing and resolving complaints, OIG requests that complainants and others refrain from making such requests.
The Hotline Division does not provide complainants the results of cases when they are closed. Complainants are provided with information on how to request the results of the case under the Freedom of Information Act. Requests should be made in writing to VA OIG Freedom of Information Act Section (50CI), 810 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20420. Due to privacy concerns, complainants will not generally be entitled to receive information on disciplinary or adverse action taken against subjects of their complaints.
There are no appeal rights from a decision by the Hotline Division as to the actions taken on a particular complaint. The Hotline Division is not a statutory entity, court, or other administrative body. The IG Act gives the Inspector General sole discretion regarding the processing and investigation of hotline complaints.