U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL WINS STAY FOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 11/24/98
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
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.