Office of Accountability & Whistleblower Protection
Mission: The Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) is committed to improving accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
History: OAWP was established by the President of the United States on April 27, 2017, under Executive Order 13793. OAWP was statutorily established by the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, P.L. 115-41, and its functions are codified under 38 U.S.C. § 323.
Values: WE²CARE, which stands for We engage, educate, and collaborate to improve accountability and reliability in VA for everyone.
- The W in WE²CARE stands for We. That is, the Assistant Secretary and all OAWP staff.
- The E2 in WE²CARE stands for engage and educate.
- Engagement includes ongoing communication with whistleblowers about disclosures and investigations, investigations conducted or overseen by OAWP, and recommendations made by the Assistant Secretary for disciplinary action.
- Educate includes the training that OAWP has conducted and will continue to conduct for supervisors and employees.
- The C in WE²CARE stands for collaborate. Collaboration includes building trust in OAWP investigations and recommendation by maintaining ongoing dialogue and communication with stakeholders, including Congress and the public. Collaboration also includes liaising with GAO, OIG, OSC, and OMI on reports and recommendations and working with VA administrations and staff offices to ensure compliance with those recommendations.
- The A in WE²CARE stands by accountability. Accountability begins with self-accountability. That is, employees and managers holding themselves accountable versus OAWP or another entity within VA forcing them to be accountable.
- The R in WE²CARE stands for reliability, including for individuals who use VA services; who trust VA with their lives and those of their loved ones; for entities that audit a VA, including GAO and OIG; and for Congress and the public.
- The last E in WE²CARE stands for everyone, including individuals who use VA services, for caregivers and families who support those individuals, for VA employees and applicants for VA employment, and for Congress and the public.
OAWP is led by Dr. Tamara Bonzanto, the Assistant Secretary for Accountability and Whistleblower Protection. OAWP has approximately 80 staff distributed among three divisions.
- Conducts investigations;
- Oversees allegations that have been referred for investigations to VA administrations and staff offices; and
- Makes recommendations for disciplinary action.
Compliance and Oversight Division:
- Tracks and confirms implementation of recommendations carried out by VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), VA’s Office of the Medical Inspector (OMI), the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO);
- Identifies trends based on data collected by OAWP;
- Oversees the intake of new matters into OAWP; and
- Coordinates the 38 U.S.C. 714 hold process.
Chief of Staff:
- Oversees resource management;
- Oversees stakeholder engagement;
- Oversees policy development; and
- Oversees training, including training required under 38 U.S.C. § 733.
- VA Directive 0500: Investigation of Whistleblower Disclosures and Allegations involving Senior Leaders or Whistleblower Retaliation.
Freedom of Information Act Requests: Individuals may request copies of records maintained regarding themselves through the Privacy Act. Other agency records can be requested through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. To request OAWP records under either Act, please click here. Learn more about the FOIA process.