In a memo to agencies on cooperating with independent IG offices, OMB says that where that has been a problem, one underlying issue is that agencies “did not communicate to agency staff their endorsement of standing directives or policies related to IG independence, exchange of information among agency staff and the IG, and related whistleblower protections.”
Memo M-220-4 recommends “regular and consistent” communications to employees on topics including their duty to cooperate with IG personnel and the legal requirements for providing IGs timely access to records they request.
Agencies also should provide “clear guidance to agency employees on how they can report suspected instances of waste, fraud, and abuse” it says, and they further should “foster work environments in which employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns and reporting wrongdoing without fear of retaliation. It is unlawful for an agency to take, threaten to take, propose, or not take a personnel action because of an employee’s whistleblowing activities.”
“Agencies should communicate and provide training about whistleblower rights and protections to supervisors and employees, including that agencies and supervisors cannot prevent employees from reporting concerns, cooperating with the IG, or otherwise blowing the whistle, and that agencies and supervisors cannot retaliate against employees who do so,” it says.