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Whistleblower Protection Act

The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, 1999, provides employees of the Intelligence Community (IC) the means to report to Congress complaints or information pertaining to "urgent concerns" (see below) without suffering reprisal.

This section provides a common starting point for determining whether a complaint or information pertains to the ICWPA and for pursuing the proper course of action.

In general, the ICWPA defines an "urgent concern" as:

  • A serious or flagrant problem, abuse, violation of law or Executive Order, or deficiency relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity involving classified information, but does not include differences of opinion concerning public policy matters.
  • A false statement to Congress, or a willful withholding from Congress, on an issue of material fact relating to the funding, administration, or operation of an intelligence activity.
  • An action constituting reprisal or threat of reprisal in response to an employee reporting an urgent concern.


A whistleblower complaint that does not satisfy one of the above criteria may still prove a valid issue, but such issues are handled under provisions other than the ICWPA.

Agency OIGs must, in effect, make two determinations when fielding a whistleblower complaint to determine whether it is an ICWPA case. First, the complaint must meet one of the three above criteria. Second, the complaint must be deemed "credible," or substantiated by facts allowing an investigation to proceed.

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