Federal Employees News Digest

NFFE: VA’s whistleblower office is no advocate for employees

The whistleblower office at the Department of Veterans Affairs—set up purportedly to better advocate for employees who find and report waste, fraud and abuse—instead is itself a hotbed of corruption and managerial retaliation against employees, according to a major union.

The National Federation of Federal Employees—which represents a significant segment of employees at the VA—is loudly criticizing the agency for continuing to use its Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, for the most part, to protect management from  having to correct severe malfeasance and bad publicity

“It walks like a duck and quacks like a duck. That’s obvious,” NFFE says of the VA’s OAWP, in a release emailed media. “But what is not obvious is at what point, exactly, will [VA] admit to its failed experiment to create a whistleblower office that is headed by political appointees with the mandate to root out the corruption of other political appointees and their subordinates?”

“The answer is: Probably never,” NFFE continued, in its bleak and biting assessment. “Hiding corruption and enforcing retaliation is the whole point of the office itself. In that regard, it is a huge success. (Nothing to see here, folks. You best move along...)”

“The VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection was created through a flawed law passed in 2017,” the release states. “[One] that was part of a larger package of laws designed to make veterans medical and health resources more available to private markets.”

“Along with this outsourcing endeavor was the need to keep the VA complainers quiet, namely the health and medical practitioners from inside the VA that objected to authorizing care and treatments for veterans from unqualified external sources,” the release declares frankly.

The release goes on to notes that “several” VA inspector general investigations have backed up the complaints of many employees who have been hit with unwarranted and illegal retaliation.

“The OSC is investigating the VA on this—and Congress has [hidden valid complaints of those who endured retaliation from the whistleblower office, the Office of Special Counsel is currently investigating the office, Congress has held a few hearings on the issue, and VA leadership has promised fixes … Meanwhile, VA staff and ultimately our veterans suffer.”

“As expected, the VA whistleblower office experiment failed,” NFFE’s release states. “[And] it is time to return the watchdogging to actual watchdogs external to the VA. Meanwhile, we are forced to relearn that a duck is not a very good watchdog. Our veterans deserve better, and their health and wellness depend on it.

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