Memorandum from Togo West, Secretary of the Department of Veteran’s Affairs
From: Togo West
RE: Whistleblower Protection
In 1989, the Whistleblower Protection Act was enacted to strengthen protections, for Federal employees who believe they have been subjected to unjustified personnel actions in reprisal for their whistleblowing activities. In 1994, whistleblower protections were extended to VA’s health care professionals appointed under Title 38. VA employees should be knowledgeable of the rights and protections accorded them by law.
Neither I nor any member of the leadership of this Department will tolerate whistleblower reprisal in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Each of us has an important role to play in promoting an environment in which employees feel free to come forward with their legitimate concerns without fear of reprisal.
Several years ago, the Department required that all investigative reports of complaints of reprisal be reviewed by senior executives, including reprisal for whistleblowing. Reports involving field facilities are reviewed by Network or Area Directors, or Associate Deputy Under Secretaries for Operations. For Headquarters, the review is conducted by Administration Heads, Assistant Secretaries and Other Key Officials. This procedure permits the determination of whether the personal intervention of VA’s senior managers is required and ensures that appropriate action is taken when individuals are found guilty of reprisal. The above requirement does not apply, however, to reports of complaints of reprisal involving equal, employment opportunity (EEC) discrimination. Allegations of reprisal in discrimination complaints, like EEC complaints themselves, should be brought to the attention of a VA Office of Resolution Management counselor at 1-888-737-3361, which is a toll-free number.
I encourage you to familiarize yourself with these protections and I remind every manager of this Department’s responsibility to maintain a workplace that respects its employees’ ability, indeed right, to raise legitimate concerns without fear of retribution. More detailed information about whistleblower protection is provided on the reverse side of this memorandum.
/s/ Original Signed
Togo D. West
Whistleblowing and Whistleblower Protections