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The OIG has learned that employees of thousands of contractors who receive funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are not protected against retaliation for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing.  The gap in protections exists because (1) the contracts pre-date July 1, 2013, the date on which the anti-retaliation law codified at 41 U.S.C. § 4712 (Section 4712) became effective; and (2) HUD has not modified the contracts to include Section 4712 anti-retaliation provisions that would protect the employees.1  The OIG identified this problem following recent investigations of allegations of whistleblower retaliation against several employees of contractors.  Although the investigations revealed this problem with respect to Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contracts, as discussed below, we believe that the same risk is present in many other HUD contracts.2  The OIG recommends that HUD address this serious risk by undertaking a comprehensive review of all contracts to determine whether they include Section 4712 anti-retaliation provisions.  We also recommend that HUD be proactive in seeking to modify any HUD contracts that do not include Section 4712 anti-retaliation language to confer whistleblower protections on contractor employees.

Recommendations

Special Inquiry

  •   2023-IG-002-1
    Priority

    HUD (a) identify all contracts related to its programs that pre-date July 1, 2013 and that have not yet been modified to include Section 4712 whistleblower protections; and (b) review all contracts entered into on or after July 1, 2013, to ensure they include a clause that requires contractors to comply with Section 4712.


    Status

    As of June 2024, we have not yet reached agreement on a management decision with HUD over the corrective action they propose to take to address the recommendation.


    Analysis

    To fully address this recommendation, HUD must (a) identify all contracts related to its programs that pre-date July 1, 2013 and that have not yet been modified to include Section 4712 whistleblower protections; and (b) review all contracts entered on or after July 1, 2013, to ensure they include a clause that requires contractors to comply with Section 4712.

    Implementation of this recommendation will ensure that Section 4712 whistleblower protections will apply to all individuals working for HUD contractors.

  •   2023-IG-002-2
    Priority

    Seek voluntary cooperation from program participants to proactively modify pre-2013 contracts for the purpose of including a clause requiring compliance with Section 4712.


    Status

    As of June 2024, we have not yet reached agreement on a management decision with HUD over the corrective action they propose to take to address the recommendation.


    Analysis

    To fully address this recommendation, HUD must provide evidence that it has sought voluntary cooperation from program participants to proactively modify pre-2013 contracts for the purpose of including a clause requiring compliance with Section 4712.

    Implementation of this recommendation will ensure that Section 4712 whistleblower protections will apply to all individuals working for HUD contractors.

  •   2023-IG-002-3
    Priority

    Use its best efforts to include a clause requiring compliance with Section 4712 at the time of major modifications to contracts with program participants with whom HUD is unable to gain voluntary cooperation.


    Status

    As of June 2024, we have not yet reached agreement on a management decision with HUD over the corrective action they propose to take to address the recommendation.


    Analysis

    To fully address this recommendation, HUD must provide evidence that it has taken steps to ensure that it is including a clause requiring compliance with Section 4712 at the time of major modifications to contracts with program participants with whom HUD is unable to gain voluntary cooperation.

    Implementation of this recommendation will ensure that Section 4712 whistleblower protections will apply to all individuals working for HUD contractors.

  •   2023-IG-002-4

    HUD seek legislative authority to expeditiously include Section 4712 protections within contracts for which HUD believes it must otherwise wait until there is a major modification.

  •   2023-IG-002-5

    HUD develop and implement controls to ensure that the provisions of Section 4712 are included in all contracts.