The pilot program established under the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act to protect whistleblowers of contractors, subcontractors, grantees, and subgrantees, was made permanent in 2016 by the Enhancement of Whistleblower Protection Act.  It is codified at 41 U.S.C § 4712.

WHISTLEBLOWER REPRISAL AS PROHIBITED ACTIVITY

  • Discharging, demoting, or otherwise discriminating against an employee of a contractor, subcontractor, or grantee in response to a disclosure of information that the employee reasonably believes is evidence of:
  • A gross mismanagement of a Federal contract or grant,
  • A gross waste of Federal funds,
  • An abuse of authority relating to a Federal contract or grant,
  • A substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or
  • A violation of law, rule, or regulation related to a Federal contract (including the competition for or negotiation of a contract) or grant.

Disclosures to the following parties are protected

  • A Member of Congress or a representative of a committee of Congress.
  • An Inspector General.
  • The Government Accountability Office.
  • A Federal employee responsible for contract or grant oversight or management at the relevant agency.
  • An authorized official of the Department of Justice or other law enforcement agency.
  • A court or grand jury.
  • A management official or other employee of the contractor, subcontractor, or grantee who has the responsibility to investigate, discover, or address misconduct.

OIG INVESTIGATION OF COMPLAINTS

Submit a report of the findings of the investigation to:

  • the person that alleged the reprisal,
  • the contractor or grantee concerned, and
  • the head of the agency, or

Make a determination that the complaint:

  • is frivolous,
  • fails to allege a violation of the relevant prohibition, or
  • has previously been addressed in another Federal or State judicial or administrative proceeding initiated by the complainant.
  • The report or determination will be made within 180 days of receipt of the complaint.  The 180 days can be extended for up to an additional 180 days, if the complainant agrees to the extension of time.
  • Any complaint must be brought to the HUD OIG within 3 years after the date on which the alleged reprisal took place.
  • There is also an anti-disclosure requirement.  OIGs may not respond to any inquiry or disclose any information from or about any person alleging reprisal, except to the extent that such response is:
  • made with the consent of the person alleging the reprisal,
  • made in accordance with the provisions of section 552a of Title 5 (the Privacy Act) or
  • as required by any other applicable Federal law, or necessary to conduct an investigation of the alleged reprisal.

REMEDY AND ENFORCEMENT

  • Within 30 days after receiving an IG's report, the head of the agency shall make a determination whether there is sufficient basis to conclude that the contractor, subcontractor, or grantee has subjected the complainant to a reprisal prohibited by the statute.  

EFFECTIVE DATE

  • Section 4712 is currently effective.
  • Section 4712 temporarily suspends the current civilian contractor employee whistleblower protection found at 41 U.S.C. 4705..

WHISTLEBLOWER OMBUDSMAN

If you have questions or need assistance please contact the Whistleblower Ombudsman, Maura Malone, at: whistleblower@hudoig.gov