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 variations 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 military personnel. These protections are found within Presidential Policy Directive 19 (PPD-19), Intelligence Community Directive 120 (ICD-120), and applicable statutes.
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.
PPD-19 has two separate protections.
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.
IGs throughout the IC are responsible for enforcing IC Whistleblower protections found within PPD-19, ICD-120 and applicable legislation. 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 allegations of a violation of Whistleblower protections.
The following is an overview PPD-19 review process and contact information for IC 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 45 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 ICIG.
3. Discretionary Review by the ERP
The ERP is the review process for local agency or department determinations on whistleblower reprisal allegations. The ICIG 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 ICIG and is based on the facts and circumstances of the 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 PPD-19 review. If the ICIG determines that review by the ERP is appropriate, an ERP will be convened with representatives from three neutral and disinterested ICIGs to review the allegations and render a determination within 180 days.
To learn more about the ERP process referenced above, click here to access the ODNI ICIG 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.