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U.S. Office of Special Counsel

1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 300

Washington, D.C. 20036-4505


(202) 653-7984      

    Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced that the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) had granted its petition to stay the reassignment of Mr. Neil Jacobs from his position of Assistant District Director, Investigations, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in Dallas, Texas, to a non-supervisory job in the Central Regional Office, also in Dallas. OSC requested the stay because its ongoing investigation revealed reasonable grounds to conclude that Mr. Jacobs’ protected whistleblowing was a contributing factor in INS’s determination to reassign him. 

    Mr. Jacobs engaged in protected whistleblowing when he wrote a letter to a congressional aide criticizing certain aspects of an INS citizenship program and when he testified before the U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice of the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight at a hearing regarding “Citizenship USA.” In his testimony, Mr. Jacobs disclosed possible fraud and other abuses involving the INS Dallas District Office’s processing of 10,000 naturalization applications. 

    Prior to his testimony, Mr. Jacobs had received national recognition for his accomplishments. For example, Jacobs was honored at the White House for his role in “Operation Jobs,” a program he implemented in Dallas whereby illegal aliens are removed from jobs and replaced with welfare recipients. He received a “Golden Hammer” award from Vice President Al Gore for his reinvention efforts and a Ford Foundation award for his innovations in government. Jacobs also received an INS award for bravery, and numerous “Outstanding” annual performance ratings and special achievement awards. 

    Following his testimony, INS conducted several investigations into allegations about Mr. Jacobs’ conduct and performance, and considered his removal, but was prevented from doing so by the Department of Justice. Next, INS proposed to demote and geographically reassign him. The agency conducted additional investigation, and ultimately sustained only one of the five reasons or charges and part of another. However, INS ordered a 21-day suspension and reassignment to a non-supervisory position for allegedly inappropriate distribution of quality step increases (QSIs) and four incidents involving inappropriate remarks, offenses that do not appear to warrant such harsh discipline. 

    OSC requested a stay to complete the investigation and conduct a legal review of the information obtained to determine if the disciplinary action was taken against Mr. Jacobs because of his protected whistleblowing. Under the Board’s decision, the stay will remain in effect for 45 days while OSC completes its investigation. Should OSC decide that Mr. Jacob’s whistleblowing was a contributory factor in his proposed reassignment, it may then petition the MSPB for formal corrective action and/or attempt to negotiate a settlement with INS on his behalf.