In a letter directed to the VA that raises an issue applicable across the government, the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee has asked that department to take special care that whistleblowers do not suffer retaliation during the partial government shutdown.
While the VA itself is funded and is in regular operations, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., noted that the Office of Special Counsel is one of the agencies whose funding has lapsed. “VA whistleblowers facing retaliation from their supervisors for blowing the whistle on fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement, and criminal activity within the department should not be denied their due process rights because of the government shut down.”
He added that 40 percent of whistleblower complaints received by the OSC are from VA employees. “The closure of OSC due to the government shut down, and its inability to make determinations on behalf of VA whistleblowers or send receipts of whistleblower complaints filed should not be used by retaliating supervisors to evade the law,” he wrote to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
“I request that you immediately cease initiation of removal, demotion, or suspension proceedings and immediately suspend such proceedings initiated since December 22, 2018 against VA employees who allege they are subject to prohibited personnel practices while OSC remains closed,” he wrote.