FEDweek

Reprisal Investigations Drag Out at DoD, Report Says

The Defense Department’s IG office did not meet statutory or internal timeliness goals for more four-fifths of the civilian and contractor employee whistleblower reprisal investigations it closed in fiscal years 2013 through 2015, GAO has said.

According to a report, the IG’s goal is 240 days for DoD appropriated-fund and non-appropriated-fund civilians, but in fiscal year 2015 the average length of these investigations was 608 and 402 days, respectively. Similarly, the statutory timeliness goal for DoD contractors and subcontractors is 180 days, and in fiscal year 2015 the average length for those investigations was 285 days.

GAO said that the IG has taken steps to speed up its investigations, reducing the average length of all closed investigations by about 20 percent over those years. The office “requested funds to increase its personnel, but it has yet to determine the feasibility of collecting key workload data such as labor hours that would enable it to strengthen its assessment of personnel requirements and allocate personnel in the most efficient manner,” GAO said.

The IG also has established processes to help ensure the independence and thoroughness of the cases it handles but “a lack of documentation may limit its ability to fully evaluate threats to its independence, and it does not always follow its complaint intake process.” Also lacking are performance measures to assess the quality of its investigations and oversight, said GAO.

It said the IG concurred with its recommendations in those areas.