FEDweek

Senator Seeks More Attention to Hotline Complaints

A leading senator on whistleblower issues, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has said that a backlog of IG hotline tips at DoD has left those who make disclosures more vulnerable to retaliation and could dissuade others.

“The hotline plays a critical role in the Inspector General’s core mission of rooting out fraud, waste and abuse. It is the command and control link between whistleblowers and investigators. To succeed, hotline tips need quick and decisive action,” he said in a Senate speech.

However, he said that at his request the office produced data showing that as of late 2016, more than 400 cases had been outstanding for more than two years, and of those, more than half were more than three years old.

“Hotline posters are displayed throughout the department. They are a bugle call for whistleblowers. They encourage whistleblowers to step forward at considerable risk. In return, they deserve a quick and honest response. Allowing their reports to slide into a deep, dark hole in limbo for two, three, four years or more leaves whistleblowers exposed, vulnerable to retaliation, and distrusting of the system designed to protect them. This kind of treatment will discourage others from stepping forward in the future,” he said.

He said that the IG’s whistleblower reprisal investigations unit also is laboring under a backlog, completing about 50-60 investigations a year but with some 120 cases under investigation at any time, “a large number inevitably get rolled forward from one year to the next.”