February 6, 2017
Requested by the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
Letter to Ranking Member Bill Nelson Regarding Whistleblower Protections for DOT Employees
On February 6, 2017, we issued a letter in response to a congressional request for information regarding whistleblower protections at the Department of Transportation (DOT) and recent news reports about Inspectors General and the presidential transition team. Specifically, Senator Bill Nelson requested information about 1) education and training for current and new DOT employees, 2) notification since January 20, 2017, to DOT employees about their whistleblower rights, 3) OIG’s designated Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman, and 4) recent communications with the presidential transition team regarding the position of Inspector General at DOT.
We stated that OIG’s Web site provides DOT employees with substantial information about their whistleblower rights and remedies related to allegations of retaliation. The site explains that employees may file claims directly with OIG or the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and includes contact information for our Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman and Complaint Center Operations. Under the prohibited personnel practice and whistleblower protection provisions of Title 5 of the U.S. Code, section 2302(c), Federal agencies are required to notify employees about their rights and available remedies. OSC has certified OIG and nearly all of DOT’s Operating Administrations (OA). The National Highway Traffic Administration and Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation have registered with OSC for the certification program, but they have not yet been certified. The Federal Transit Administration has plans to register with OSC and complete the certification process as well. We also plan to contact each OA to offer training and materials to ensure that DOT employees remain cognizant of their whistleblower protections. All OIG employees, current and new, receive training on whistleblower retaliation laws and protections. Finally, our letter described the Inspector General’s recent communications and discussions with the President-elect’s transition team for DOT.