Employees of AmeriCorps and its contractors, subcontractors, and grantees perform an important service by reporting what they reasonably believe to be evidence of:
- A violation of any law, rule or regulation;
- Gross mismanagement;
- A gross waste of funds;
- An abuse of authority;
- A substantial and specific danger to public health; or
- A substantial and specific danger to public safety.
The reporting of these types of concerns and violations are “protected disclosures,” commonly referred to as “whistleblowing.” Whistleblower disclosures save lives as well as taxpayer dollars. They play a critical role in keeping our government honest, efficient and accountable.
Recognizing that whistleblowers root out waste, fraud and abuse, and protect public health and safety, Federal laws strongly encourage employees to disclose wrongdoing, and protect whistleblowers from retaliation. Retaliation occurs when a person with authority takes, fails to take or threatens to take a personnel action against an employee because of the employee’s protected disclosure. Personnel actions can include details, transfers, reassignments and significant changes in duties, responsibilities or working conditions.
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent Federal agency charged with investigating and prosecuting violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act for Federal employees, former Federal employees and applicants for Federal employment. Those individuals may file a complaint with OSC if they believe they have been retaliated against for engaging in whistleblowing activity.
Whistleblower protection now also extends to employees of contractors, subcontractors, grantees and subgrantees who disclose information related to: (1) gross mismanagement of a Federal contract or grant; (2) waste of Federal funds; (3) abuse of authority relating to a Federal contract or grant; (4) substantial and specific danger to public health and safety; and (5) violations of any law, rule or regulation related to a Federal contract or grant.
AmeriCorps OIG has jurisdiction to investigate allegations of retaliation against an employee of a AmeriCorps contractor, subcontractor, grantee or subgrantee for making a protected disclosure. From time to time, AmeriCorps OIG may also investigate allegations of reprisal against AmeriCorps staff.
AmeriCorps’ WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION COORDINATOR PROGRAM
Pursuant to the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, AmeriCorps’ Inspector General established a Whistleblower Protection Coordinator to educate agency employees about prohibitions on retaliation for whistleblowing, as well as employees' rights and remedies if subjected to retaliation for making a protected disclosure.
AmeriCorps OIG’s Whistleblower Protection Coordinator program carries out several key functions, including:
- Educating AmeriCorps employees and managers about prohibitions on retaliation for protected disclosures, and informing employees who have made or are contemplating making a protected disclosure about their rights and remedies against retaliation for protected disclosures;
- Ensuring that AmeriCorps OIG promptly and thoroughly reviews and acts appropriately on allegations of whistleblower retaliation; and
- Coordinating with the Office of Special Counsel, other agencies and non-governmental organizations on relevant matters.
However, the whistleblower Protection Coordinator is prohibited by law from acting as a whistleblower's representative, agent or advocate.
AmeriCorps employees, contractors, subcontractors, and grantees and may contact the Whistleblower Protection Coordinator at Coordinator@americorpsoig.gov or may report wrongdoing involving AmeriCorps employees or programs directly to the OIG Hotline.
Individuals who believe they have been improperly retaliated against may contact:
- AmeriCorps, Office of Inspector General:
Telephone: (800) 452-8210
Written correspondence: 250 E Street, SW, Suite 4100, Washington, D.C. 20525
- The Office of Special Counsel. OSC is an independent agency enforcing whistleblower protections, safeguarding the merit system and providing a secure channel for whistleblower disclosures. Information on filing a complaint with OSC may be found at http://www.osc.gov.
- The Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). Certain employees may be able to appeal whistleblower retaliation directly to MSPB. More information on whistleblower MSPB appeals is available at http://www.mspb.gov/appeals/whistleblower.htm.