Whistleblower Protection Coordinator
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012, (WPEA) required each Inspector General (IG) of a Federal agency to designate a Whistleblower Protection Coordinator (WPC) to educate agency employees about prohibitions on retaliation for protected disclosures and rights and remedies against such retaliation.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Inspector General, who also serves as the IG for the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB), has designated Michael Clark, the General Counsel to the Inspector General, as the NRC and DNFSB Whistleblower Protection Coordinator (WPC).
Contact Information for the WPC
The NRC/DNFSB Whistleblower Protection Coordinator may be contacted at (301) 415-1146 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Role of the WPC
It is the role of the WPC to educate NRC and DNFSB employees about prohibitions on retaliation for protected disclosures, as well as the rights and remedies for alleged retaliation for protected disclosures.
The WPC is not permitted to act as a legal representative, agent or advocate for employees or former employees. Also, the WPEA does not provide for employee confidentiality. Individuals who wish to remain anonymous may use the OIG Hotline.
Federal Employee Rights Under the WPEA
Federal law prohibits NRC and DNFSB managers from retaliating against employees who provide information they reasonably believe evidences:
- Violation of any law, rule, or regulation;
- Gross mismanagement;
- Gross waste of funds;
- Abuse of authority; or,
- Substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.
An Agency official's threat to take, propose, or not take a personnel action because of whistleblowing activities constitutes a prohibited personnel practice. Federal employees are covered if they make a whistleblower disclosure to the Office of Special Counsel, the Inspector General, or an Agency supervisor.
Federal employees are also protected if they make such a disclosure to other individuals or organizations, such as a congressional committee or the media, provided that the disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law and the information does not have to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign affairs.
Office of Special Counsel
The NRC is Registered for Certification Under OSC's 2302(c) Certification Program
Congress enacted 5 U.S.C. § 2302(c) in response to reports of limited understanding in the federal workforce concerning employees' right to be free from prohibited personnel practices (PPPs), especially retaliation for whistleblowing. Section 2302(c) requires agency heads to ensure, in consultation with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), that employees are informed of the rights and remedies available to them under the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA), the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) and related laws.
OSC's 2302(c) Certification Program verifies that federal agencies have met statutory obligations to inform their workforces about the rights and remedies available under the CSRA, the WPA, and the Whistleblower Protection and Enhancement Act (WPEA).
Contractors and Subcontractors
41 U.S.C. §4712 prohibits contractors and subcontractors from retaliating against their employees for disclosing information the employees "reasonably believe" is evidence of any of the following:
- Gross mismanagement of a federal contract or grant;
- Gross waste of federal funds;
- Abuse of authority relating to a federal contract or grant;
- Violation of law, rule, or regulation related to a federal contract or grant; or,
- Substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
Reporting and Investigation
A covered whistleblower may submit a complaint to the Inspector General (IG) of the agency no more than 3 years after the date of the alleged retaliation and the IG must investigate the complaint unless the IG determines that the complaint is frivolous, fails to allege a violation under the program, or has been previously addressed in another formal proceeding. The statute details timelines for investigation and responsive action; remedies and damages, as well as the availability of federal court appeals.