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Improving Personnel Accountability

We improve personnel accountability at VA by:

  • Conducting thorough and unbiased investigations into senior leader misconduct and poor performance and whistleblower retaliation in a timely fashion.
  • Making recommendations for disciplinary and other action when allegations investigated by our office are substantiated.
  • Protecting whistleblower identities while ensuring that whistleblower disclosures are properly investigated.
  • Educating employees and stakeholders on whistleblower rights and protections.

Whistleblower disclosures and complaints

We receive whistleblower disclosures from VA employees and applicants for VA employment.  We also receive complaints from Veterans and other individual alleging senior leader misconduct, or poor performance, or both, and whistleblower retaliation by a VA supervisor.  Whistleblower disclosures and complaints are received by our office through a toll-free hotline, web-based intake form, fax, or email.

When making a whistleblower disclosure or filing a complaint with our office, individuals can consent to the release of their identify, request that we keep their identity confidential, or make a whistleblower disclosure or complaint anonymously.

Education and training

Our office educates and trains VA employees on whistleblower rights and protections.  We also maintain VA's certification under the Office of Special Counsel’s U.S.C. § 2302(c) whistleblower protection certification program.

Investigations

We directly investigate allegations of senior leader misconduct, or poor performance, or both, and allegations of whistleblower retaliation made against any VA supervisor.

Senior leaders include political appointees, VA senior executives, and certain VA facility directors, associate directors, chiefs of staff, and nurse executives.  Before conducting an investigation, our investigators conduct a clarification interview with the whistleblower or complainant to identify allegations and witnesses.  If we substantiate allegations, we make recommendations to VA for disciplinary action and, if appropriate, corrective action (e.g., placing a whistleblower back into his or her position).

  1. Complainant interviewed to identify allegations and witnesses

  2. Investigation plan developed

  3. Investigation and drafting of report of investigation

  4. Report of investigation finalized and, if appropriate, disciplinary or other action is recommended

Referred investigations

As required by law, we refer whistleblower disclosures that do not allege senior leader misconduct, or poor performance, or both, and whistleblower retaliation by VA supervisors to the appropriate VA Administration or Staff Office for investigation.  Our office may also transmit these allegations to VA's Office of the Medical Inspector or VA's Office of Inspector General for investigation.

Prior to creating a referred investigation, we identify the allegations to be investigated, the witness to be interviewed, individuals who are conflicted from performing the investigation in the organization that will receive the referral, and the documentation to be included as part of the referral process. If a whistleblower has not consented to release of his or her identity, we will redact information identifying the whistleblower prior to referring the allegation for investigation.

VA Administrations and Staff Offices that receive a referred investigation must prepare a report of investigation that addresses the findings of their investigation; identifies the witnesses interviewed; documents reviewed; and, for each allegation, whether the allegation was substantiated or not substantiated. If an allegation is substantiated, organizations must explain what corrective action was taken to remedy the wrongdoing.

  1. We identify allegations and witnesses

  2. We refer the matter to a VA office for investigation

  3. VA office investigates and submits report of investigation to our office

  4. We receive and review the report of investigation and accept if appropriate

Page last updated on May 4, 2021

Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection

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