When problems occur within a federal agency, we always hope the culture of the agency supports the reporting of the waste, fraud or gross mismanagement by the employees. A study by the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) finds there is still work needed to achieve this goal.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the federal agency responsible for protecting federal employees from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisals or retaliation for whistleblowing, commends the MSPB study for highlighting the ongoing challenges in this area.
The report compared results from a 1992 survey and found that there was a decline in the wrongdoing and fraud from 1992, but the percentage of those who had engaged in whistleblowing activities and “perceived either threats or acts of reprisal, or both,” for reporting, remained unchanged at 30 percent.
One positive finding of the study indicated that doing the right thing was the most important factor for an agency employee in deciding to report wrongdoing.
Employees saw saving lives as more important than any personal risk to their career, and that rewards for the report or negative consequences of reporting mattered less than having their agency respond to their report.
The need for whistleblowing is demonstrated by the substantial amounts of money at stake, with 35 percent of incidents valued at more than $100,000. The report found that while the occurrences of wrongdoing had declined slightly from 1992, the overall value of goods or services encompassed by the wrongdoing had increased.
Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said, “With the government facing a fiscal crisis, OSC’s role to protect whistleblowers has never been more important.”
Source: The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, ” Special Counsel commends new study MSPB on Whistleblowing,” November 22, 2012