Whistleblower Protection

Continuing Impediments to Protection of Military Members Gao ID: NSIAD-95-23 February 2, 1995

Under Pentagon procedures established to implement the Whistleblower Protection Act, only whistleblowers who make allegations of reprisals directly to the Defense Department's (DOD) Inspector General (IG) are protected under the law. Service members who make allegations of reprisal to service or local IGs are not afforded such protection. At the time of GAO's review, the DOD IG had completed few cases involving service members' claims that mental health evaluations had been used in retaliation for whistleblowing. Further, DOD had not yet issued regulations to ensure that the services consistently protect whistleblowers from reprisal. GAO concludes that service members may have been unaware of their rights and uninformed that the law affords them protection only if they file their allegations of reprisal with the DOD IG. Service members who believe that they were the subject of reprisals for whistleblowing before passage of the 1988 act may request relief from their service's Board for the Correction of Military Records. Although the law requires that requests be made within three years after the discovery of an error or injustice, the Board may waive the time limit.

GAO found that: (1) only those whistleblowers who report alleged reprisals to the Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General (IG) are protected under the act; (2) service members who report alleged reprisals to a service or local IG are not fully protected; (3) few service members have reported the use of mental health evaluations as reprisals for whistleblowing; (4) the services have not issued required regulations to ensure that whistleblowers are protected from reprisal; (5) the services have not adequately informed service members of the proper procedures for filing allegations of reprisals, particularly to DOD IG; and (6) a service member who was subject to reprisal prior to the whistleblower act can seek relief from the Board for the Correction of Military Records (BCMR) if the request is made within 3 years after the member discovers the error or the Board determines that the case has merit.


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