Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection
OAWP Mission and Values
The Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) ensures accountability within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), receives and investigates VA whistleblower disclosures, and protects VA employees and applicants for VA employment from whistleblower retaliation.
OAWP’s statutory functions can be found under 38 U.S.C. § 323(c) and include:
A. advising the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (the Secretary) on all matters relating to accountability;
B. issuing reports and recommendations on matters addressed in subparagraph A;
C. receiving whistleblower disclosures;
D. referring whistleblower disclosures received by OAWP for investigation, if the Assistant Secretary for Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (Assistant Secretary) has reason to believe the whistleblower disclosure is evidence of a violation of a provision of law, mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety;
E. receiving and referring disclosures from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) for investigation
F. recording, tracking, reviewing, and confirming implementation of recommendations from audits and investigations carried out by VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), VA’s Office of the Medical Inspector (OMI), OSC, and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), including the imposition of disciplinary actions and other corrective actions contained in such recommendations;
G. analyzing data from OAWP and OIG telephone hotlines, other whistleblower disclosures, disaggregated by facility and area of health care if appropriate, and relevant audits and investigations to identify trends and issue reports to the Secretary;
H. receiving, reviewing, and investigating allegations of misconduct, retaliation, or poor performance involving:
1. a VA senior executive;
2. an individual employed by VA in a confidential, policy-making, policy-determining, or policy-advocating position; or
3. a supervisory employee, if the allegation involves retaliation against a VA employee for making a whistleblower disclosure; and
I. making recommendations to the Secretary for disciplinary action as the Assistant Secretary considers appropriate after substantiating any allegation of misconduct or poor performance pursuant to an investigation carried out as described in subparagraph F or H.
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.
o 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.
o Educate includes the training that OAWP has conducted and will continue to conduct for supervisors and employees.
• The C in WE²CAREstands 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.