SPECIAL COUNSEL ELAINE KAPLAN TESTIFIES BEFORE HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE CONCERNING WHISTLEBLOWING AND RETALIATION IN THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS’ AFFAIRS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 3/11/99
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Special Counsel Elaine D. Kaplan, of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel
(OSC), testified this morning before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Subcommittee Chairman Everett called the hearing to address whistleblowing and retaliation at the U. S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
In testifying about OSC’s experience with the VA, Ms. Kaplan said that the VA, along with a number of other agencies, had failed to implement its statutory responsibility to educate its managers and employees about their rights and responsibilities under the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1994
Ms. Kaplan, sworn into office last May, said: “One of my primary goals is… to do more to help agencies meet their statutory responsibility to educate their employees.” She noted that when new employees enter government service, they are usually given a packet of material concerning government ethics laws, family and medical leave act rights, flextime and other employment-related laws. She said, “I have yet to meet a new government employee, however, who received a packet of information regarding prohibited personnel practices and the Whistleblower Protection Act.”
Ms. Kaplan noted that OSC enjoys excellent liaison relationships with some federal agencies. She singled out the Department of Defense, the Army and the Navy as examples of agencies that work as partners with
OSC. She said: “To do our job effectively, we need the cooperation of other federal agencies. In principle, OSC’s interests and those of the employing agency should be the same. All federal agencies should be interested in correcting and preventing illegal personnel actions.”
Ms. Kaplan expressed the hope that the VA would choose to follow the model of agencies such as DOD, Army and Navy and want to work in partnership with
OSC. She said that she would “welcome the opportunity to work with the VA in establishing whistleblower awareness and prohibited personnel practice training programs.” She said that she, “would also welcome its cooperation in establishing a liaison program with
Ms. Kaplan noted recent initiatives by the U.S. Customs Service to educate its employees, in part, by insuring that every Customs employee had been provided a copy of OSC’s recently revised brochure, “The Role of
OSC.” That brochure is also available at OSC’s web site:
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel provides an independent avenue to protect merit system principles in federal government. OSC receives, investigates and prosecutes before the
MSPB, allegations concerning the commission of prohibited personnel practices, with priority given to whistleblowers. In addition, the Office provides a secure channel for federal workers to disclose information regarding legal violations, gross mismanagement, fraud, waste and abuse.