Within two days of receiving the complaint, the whistleblowing employee’s supervisor must determine if there has been a violation of a law, rule, or regulation, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or substantial danger to public health and safety.
If the supervisor fails to respond to the employee’s complaint within that time frame or take satisfactory action in correcting the problem, the employee may bring their complaint to the next level of authority beyond their direct supervisor. The supervisor at the level above the employee’s direct supervisor would have the same two day timeframe to address the issue.
A whistleblower could continue to file complaints, moving up each level of the VA’s management hierarchy until they eventually reach the VA Secretary.
Employees who receive notice that their whistleblower complaint was valid would be required to be informed by the VA Secretary of their ability to volunteer for a transfer to a different department. They would also be granted preference in obtaining the transfer.
VA employees who retaliate against whistleblowers would be subject to the following punishments by the VA Secretary:
A suspension of at least 14 days and not more than a removal from their position for a first offense.
Removal from their position for a second offense.
A fee charged that takes into account the costs incurred by the federal government because of the personnel action.
After being notified that they will be the subject of a punishment for retaliation, an employee must dispute the claim within five days.
The VA Secretary would be empowered to deny bonuses or awards to supervisors who have committed personnel actions covered by this legislation, or fail to comply with the procedures for dealing with whistleblower complaints.
There would also be annual training regarding whistleblower complaints, merit system protection, and whistleblower rights would be prominently displayed on the VA’s website and its facilities.