The VA whistleblower-related provisions in the bill to continue agency funding would put several new obligations on agency management, in particular front-line supervisors. Under those provisions, an employee generally could make a whistleblowing type disclosure to a first-level supervisor, who would have to investigate and respond to the employee and to higher-level management within four days whether the disclosure could reasonably be considered valid, and if so, what actions the supervisor will take to address the problem. If the supervisor does not respond timely or the employee believes the response did not adequately address the complaint, the employee could take the matter up the chain of command. Also, a supervisor found to have taken a retaliatory personnel action against a whistleblower would face discipline between a 12-day suspension and firing for a first offense and mandatory firing for a second offense, actions that would be subject to appeal, but under a shortened process; and treatment of whistleblower complaints would become part of a supervisor’s performance evaluations for potential promotions and bonuses. In addition, an independent central whistleblower office would be created to investigate complaints and the department would have to increase training regarding whistleblowing protections. Several employee organizations and good-government groups have raised objections, but those provisions are not among the points of controversy holding up action on the overall funding bill.
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