U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 201
Washington, D.C. 20036-4505
U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL SETTLES WHISTLEBLOWER RETALIATION COMPLAINT FILED BY DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTER DIRECTOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 12/12/03
CONTACT: MARY K. MONAHAN
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced the settlement of a prohibited personnel practice complaint filed by a Senior Executive Service (SES) member of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The complainant, a New York State VA Medical Center Director, alleged that a now former VA Network Director retaliated against him because he disclosed to senior-level Network officials that, among other things, records and patient statistics were allegedly falsified during an external audit. After the complainant made his disclosures, and based upon the Network Directorís recommendation, the agency did not fully re-certify the complainant for the SES and placed him on a performance improvement plan (PIP). The VA agreed to stay the implementation of the complainantís PIP while OSC investigated the complainantís allegations.
Upon completion of its investigation, OSC concluded that it had reasonable grounds to believe that the VA violated the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). The WPA makes it unlawful for an agency to take a personnel action against an employee because of disclosures evidencing, among other types of wrongdoing, violations of law, rule, or regulation, gross mismanagement, and a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
When OSC advised the VA of its conclusion, the VA agreed, without admitting liability, to fully certify the complainantís SES status, delete from his Official Personnel Folder all references to denying him full SES recertification, and pay his attorney fees. The VA also agreed to discipline and provide OSC training on the WPA to the former Network Director, who, without admitting liability, agreed to those terms.
OSC is an independent federal agency that investigates and prosecutes complaints alleging the commission of prohibited personnel practices at most federal executive branch agencies. In cases where an OSC investigation reveals reasonable grounds to believe that a prohibited personnel practice has been committed, and an agency declines to voluntarily provide relief to a complainant, OSC may file a petition for corrective action before the Merit Systems Protection Board on behalf of the aggrieved employee. In many cases such as this one, however, OSC obtains relief for complaining parties through settlement before it makes a formal finding regarding the merits of the complaint.
For more information about OSC, please visit www.osc.gov.