VAOIG Reward Program Policy

The VA OIG Rewards Program

VA OIG may pay cash rewards to a source of information (source) for providing critical information not previously known by the VA OIG. The information must be essential or necessary to the effective administration and enforcement of the laws within the VA OIG’s jurisdiction. The information must be more than helpful or desirable. Nothing in this policy is intended to create any rights in third parties, and the decision whether or not to make a reward rests solely in the Inspector General's discretion.

The specific procedures for rewards under this policy follow.

A. Eligibility

Rewards may be given to any person, including VA employees, former employees, contractor employees, or others. However, current and former VA OIG employees, or anyone who becomes aware of the information being provided as a result of their interactions with a current or former VA OIG employee are not eligible. Employees of other law enforcement agencies are also not eligible to receive any monetary rewards under this program.

A source may receive an OIG Reward for disclosing to the VA OIG information concerning criminal or unlawful activities involving VA programs and personnel, or complaint issues that result in significant improvements to, or savings in, VA operations and programs.

B. Reward Process

Any source who requests payment for information will be informed that payments may be made only if the information provided is new to the VA OIG and meets OIG reward criteria. No promises should be made that a reward will be given under any circumstances. The information provided will be documented in writing and forwarded VA OIG supervisors for evaluation. VA OIG supervisors will screen all reward requests and forward recommendations for rewards under this policy to the designated Assistant Inspector General (AIG). The transmittal will include a synopsis of the information provided by the source, the significance of that information to the VA OIG's review, the results of the VA OIG review, and a recommended reward amount. The AIG will then make a recommendation in writing to the Inspector General, who will make the final decision on any rewards.

C. Criteria for Granting Monetary Rewards

Final approval of any reward is solely within the discretion of the Inspector General, who will be guided by the criteria established in this policy. As a prerequisite to approving a reward, the Inspector General may require the person under consideration for a reward to submit a sworn affidavit detailing how he/she obtained the information that formed the basis for the disclosure. In determining whether to approve a reward, the Inspector General may consider the timeliness, accuracy, specificity, scope, and usefulness of the disclosure, and whether the VA OIG likely would have discovered the information without the source's assistance. The Inspector General also may consider (1) the circumstances under which the source acquired the information, (2) the source's culpability, if any, for the matters disclosed, and (3) the potential risk to the source, if any, for having made the disclosure.

D. Computation of Reward

The amount of reward generally may not exceed $10,000. The IG may authorize a reward greater than $10,000 if he or she deems such higher amount appropriate to the circumstances of the investigation or complaint. If the VA OIG receives information about the same matter from more than one source, the IG may divide any reward for the disclosure among the sources based on the criteria set forth in this policy. The amount of any reward will be based on any relevant factors deemed appropriate by the IG; e.g., the significance of the information provided, risks involved, time spent, expenses incurred, extent of fraud, and cost savings to VA.

E. Reward Presentation

The source will be contacted to determine if he or she wishes to have a public or private reward presentation. The source's request for a private presentation takes precedence over the public relations value of a public ceremony. The source is to be informed that such compensation must be reported as income when filing Federal income tax forms or other appropriate tax forms. The identity of any person who receives a reward under this program shall remain confidential if requested. Although the names of reward recipients will not be released without their consent, the Inspector General will, as appropriate, disseminate information within VA and to the public regarding the number and amount of rewards and a synopsis of actions taken because of the disclosures.

F. Anonymous Sources

A person can provide information anonymously through the VA OIG Hotline and still be eligible for the OIG reward program if the complaint resulted in a felony charge or substantial monetary recovery. The source would need to contact the VA OIG Hotline and provide sufficient information (e.g., method of submission, date of submission, details of the submission) regarding the complaint to identify him or herself as the originating source. However, prior to actually receiving a reward, the individual would have to identify him or herself in order for the IG to complete the evaluation of the reward prerequisites. Identification would also be necessary for reward payment and tax records.

G. Funding for Rewards

Rewards will be funded from the VA OIG budget.