OSC Seal

U.S. Office of Special Counsel

1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 300

Washington, D.C. 20036-4505


(202) 653-7984      

    The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today formally requested that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) provide full corrective action to Neil Jacobs, Assistant District Director for Investigations in the agency’s Dallas office, whom INS suspended for 21 days and ordered reassigned to a non-supervisory position last October. In a letter to INS Commissioner Doris Meissner, Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan advised INS of OSC’s finding that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the agency retaliated against Mr. Jacobs for providing information to a Congressional subcommittee and the media that was critical of INS’ “Citizenship USA” program. Special Counsel Kaplan requested that INS rescind its reassignment order and provide Mr. Jacobs with backpay and other appropriate relief. OSC simultaneously intervened on Mr. Jacobs’ behalf in a case he currently has pending before the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) involving the same personnel actions.

    Mr. Jacobs engaged in protected whistleblowing 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. Mr. Jacobs was also perceived to have provided similar information to members of the media, including The Washington Times and the news program “20/20.”

    Prior to his disclosures, 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 disclosure, INS conducted a series of investigations into allegations about Mr. Jacobs’ conduct and performance, and then, after considering removing him from his employment, eventually proposed to demote and geographically reassign him. The agency conducted additional investigations, and ultimately sustained only one of five proposed charges and part of another. Nonetheless, INS ordered a 21-day suspension and reassignment of Jacobs to a non-supervisory position, penalties which appear disproportionate to that imposed upon other similarly situated employees. 

    Last November, OSC obtained a stay of Mr. Jacobs’ reassignment from the MSPB to allow it to complete its investigation of his complaint. OSC has requested an extension of that stay while INS considers whether to voluntarily provide corrective action. Should the INS decline to do so within a reasonable time period, OSC has the authority to file a petition with the Board requesting that such action be ordered.