SPECIAL COUNSEL TRANSMITS REPORT SUBSTANTIATING INS
WHISTLEBLOWER’S ALLEGATIONS THAT EMPLOYEES WERE REWARDED WITH ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE FOR CONTRIBUTIONS MADE TO THE COMBINED FEDERAL CAMPAIGN FUND
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 12/6/01
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today transmitted to President Bush and the Congress, an investigative report substantiating a whistleblower’s allegations that officials at the San Juan District Office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) operated a program that rewarded employees who contributed $500 or more to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) by providing them with administrative leave. The report, which was prepared by the Department of Justice (DOJ), also established that time and attendance records did not accurately reflect the leave status of certain employees.
The whistleblower alleged to OSC that the San Juan District Office operated a program known as “Super Giver” where administrative leave was rewarded in return for CFC donations. The Special Counsel found that the whistleblower’s allegations demonstrated a substantial likelihood that INS officials were violating CFC regulations, as well as federal laws and regulations governing time and attendance. Therefore, under her statutory authority, the Special Counsel transmitted the whistleblower’s allegations to former Attorney General Janet Reno, for an investigation and report.
The DOJ report substantiated the essence of the whistleblower’s disclosure. It concluded that officials at the San Juan District Office had long operated a “Super Giver” program under which employees who contributed a certain dollar amount to the CFC were granted eight hours of administrative leave. The report also found that time and attendance records did not accurately reflect the leave status of certain employees.
The DOJ investigation found that in 1999, eight employees gave $500 or more to the CFC campaign and five took leave. Of those five, one employee’s time was misrepresented. According to DOJ, in 2000, 20 employees gave $500 or more to the CFC and seven took leave. Of the seven, three employees’ time sheets were improperly prepared. As part of the “Super Giver” program, the names of participants were reported to the District Director in both years.
The report concluded that the “Super Giver” program violated CFC regulations by awarding improper incentives and establishing inappropriate goals. It also stated that the misreporting of administrative leave violated federal regulations. However, the DOJ report also concluded that there was no evidence indicating a knowing and willful violation of these regulations.
In transmitting the agency report to the President and the Congress, the Special Counsel is required under the statute to evaluate whether it contains the necessary information and whether its findings appear reasonable. Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan found the DOJ report met these requirements. The agency has taken appropriate corrective action with respect to the report’s findings. The Eastern Regional Director, INS, has issued a counseling letter to the San Juan District Director regarding her management of the CFC program. In addition, the agency has corrected errors in the payroll records.
A summary of the Department of Justice’s report and Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan’s transmittal letter can be obtained by contacting the