One of the Senate’s leading advocates for federal whistleblowers, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is pressing newly installed Defense Secretary Mark Esper to take action on retaliation cases identified in inspector general reports.
“Verified instances of whistleblower retaliation must meet expeditious, appropriate action. Failure to do so will cause a chilling effect, deterring potential whistleblowers from coming forward in the future. As the new leader of the department, you have an opportunity to right the ship,” Grassley wrote to Esper.
The senator cited in particular three recent reports in which the IG concluded that an Air Force employee had been fired in reprisal for alleging violations of rules and regulations; a Marine Corps employee had been fired for alleging mismanagement and abuse of authority; and a subcontractor’s employee was not selected for a continuing project because of disclosures made to the prime contractor.
“DoD must act quickly to implement the Inspector General’s recommendations in these cases. Otherwise, the department’s ongoing antipathy and intransigence in cases of unlawful whistleblower reprisal will only greenlight future retaliation, waste, fraud, and abuse,” Grassley wrote.
He asked for a timeline on when the department will implement the IG’s recommendations to reinstate them, whether they will receive back pay, and what actions DoD plans to take to deter future retaliation and to discipline the officials who are responsible.