In recognition of the importance of whistleblowing and whistleblowers to the effectiveness and efficiency of government, whistleblowing is protected by Federal laws, policies and regulations. There are specific protections for Federal civilian employees, Federal contractors, and military personnel who engage in lawful whistleblowing. These protections ensure that lawful whistleblowers are protected from as a result of their Protected Disclosure.

It is important to note that the IC operates under different authorities than the rest of the Federal government, so there are key differences in the processes for IC Whistleblowing and IC Whistleblower . Further, the scope of protections depends on whether the whistleblower is a government employee, government contractor, or a member of the military. These protections are found within Presidential Policy Directive 19 (PPD-19), Intelligence Community Directive 120 (ICD-120), and in federal law.


Lawful whistleblowers, depending on their employment status, have protections against personnel actions or security clearance actions taken in reprisal for the whistleblower's Protected Disclosure.

Federal laws protect whistleblowers from retaliatory personnel and security clearance actions.

Whistleblowers have protections against personnel actions taken in reprisal for a Protected Disclosure. A personnel action is defined in PPD-19 and ICD-120 as: "an appointment, promotion, detail, transfer, reassignment, demotion, suspension, termination, reinstatement, restoration, reemployment, or performance evaluation; a decision concerning pay, benefits, or awards; a decision concerning education or training, if the education or training may reasonably be expected to lead to an appointment, reassignment, promotion, or performance evaluation; a decision to order psychiatric testing or examination; and any other significant change in duties, responsibilities or working conditions."
Whistleblowers have protections against security clearance actions taken in reprisal for a Protected Disclosure. Security clearance actions include any action or threat which would impact or otherwise affect an employee or contractor's "eligibility for Access to Classified Information." Eligibility for Access to Classified Information refers to the result of the determination of whether an employee (a) is eligible for access to classified information in accordance with Executive Order (E.O.) 12968 (relating to access to classified information), or any successor thereto, and E.O. 10865 February 20, 1960, as amended (relating to safeguarding classified information with industry), or any successor thereto; and (b) possesses a need to know under such orders.

IC Whistleblower protections are based upon an individual's employment status as either a Federal Government employee or contract employee. That status determines which IC Whistleblower protections apply. Military personnel are protected under the Military Whistleblower Protections Act. For military specific questions, please contact the DoD IG.

Adverse/Unfavorable Personnel Actions
  • IC Government Civilians
  • IC Contractors
Security Clearance Actions
  • Cleared Government Civilians
  • Cleared Government Contractors

Inspector General Review Process

IGs throughout the IC are responsible for enforcing IC Whistleblower protections found within PPD-19, ICD-120 and federal law. If you believe that a personnel or security action was taken against you as a result of your Protected Disclosure, you should document and report that retaliation to your department or agency IG. Each IG will have a specific process for receiving and investigating allegations of a violation of Whistleblower protections.

The following is an overview of whistleblower reprisal matters and contact information for Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs).


1. Report Allegations of Whistleblower Reprisal

The review process starts when you report your reprisal allegations to your department or agency OIG. Your agency or department OIG will review your allegations as part of its established internal department or agency review process.


2. Agency Review

If appropriate, your agency or department OIG will conduct a review or investigation of your reprisal allegations. Your agency or department should notify you of the findings of its review or investigation and any other steps necessary to exhaust your agency or department's review process. Within 60 calendar days of exhausting your agency or department's review process and receiving the final written decision on your reprisal allegations, you may request further review by an External Review Panel (ERP) through the IC IG.


3. Discretionary Review by the ERP

The ERP is the review process for local agency or department determinations on whistleblower reprisal matters. The IC IG receives all requests for ERPs and makes assessments to determine whether to convene an ERP. There is not an automatic right to an ERP - the decision to grant review by the ERP is within the sole discretion of the IC IG and is based on the facts and circumstances of each case. Such assessments take into account materials submitted by the employee, the head of the department or agency, and the IG who conducted the initial review. If the IC IG determines that review by the ERP is appropriate, an ERP will be convened with representatives from three neutral and disinterested OIGs to review the matter and render a determination within 270 days.

To learn more about the ERP process referenced above, click here to access the ODNI IC IG ERP Procedures.

If you believe a prohibited personnel action or retaliatory security clearance action has been taken against you in reprisal for a Protected Disclosure you made, contact your local IG immediately.


IC IG 855-731-3260
CIA OIG 703-482-9500
DHS OIG 800-323-8603
DIA OIG 202-231-1000
DoD OIG 800-424-9098
Energy OIG 800-541-1625
Justice (incl. FBI, DEA) OIG 800-869-4499
NGA OIG 800-380-7729
NRO OIG 703-808-1644
NSA OIG 301-688-6327
State OIG 800-409-9926
Treasury OIG 800-359-3898


ALL OIGs CIGIE Online Database