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Whistleblower Information for Employees of Federal Contractors and Grantees

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Know your rights

Employees of federal contractors and grantees play a critical role in ensuring that all federal funds are utilized honestly, efficiently, and accountably. Recognizing this, Congress passed laws to protect employees of contractors and grantees from retaliation.

Most federal agencies have independent Inspectors General who independently audit and investigate agency programs to root out fraud, waste and abuse. These Offices of Inspectors General (OIG) also play an important role investigating retaliation by a federal contactor or grantee against an employee who discloses wrongdoing. If an Inspector General finds that a contractor or grantee retaliated against an employee, the federal agency responsible for the contract or grant may order the contractor or grantee to correct the retaliation and to pay for damages incurred by the employee because of the retaliation.

Who is covered by these protections?

You are covered if you are an employee of a federal contractor, subcontractor, grantee, or subgrantee, or hold a personal services contract with a federal agency. Persons receiving federal assistance, such as a student loan or social security, are not covered.

What is a protected disclosure?

It is unlawful for a contractor or grantee to retaliate against you for making a “protected disclosure.” A disclosure is protected if it meets two criteria:

    1. The disclosure must be based on a reasonable belief that wrongdoing has occurred. For contractors and grantees, the whistleblower law defines wrongdoing as:
    • Gross mismanagement of a Federal contract or grant,
    • Gross waste of Federal funds,
    • Abuse of authority relating to a Federal contract or grant,
    • Substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, and
    • Violation of law, rule, or regulation related to a Federal contract (including the competition for or negotiation of a contract) or grant.
    2. The disclosure must also be made to a person or entity that is authorized to receive it. For contractors and grantees, the disclosure must be made to
    • A Member of Congress or a representative of a committee of Congress,
    • An Inspector General,
    • The Government Accountability Office,
    • A Federal employee responsible for contract or grant oversight or management at the relevant agency,
    • An authorized official of the Department of Justice or other law enforcement agency,
    • A court or grand jury, or
    • A management official or other employee of the contractor, subcontractor, or grantee who has the responsibility to investigate, discover, or address misconduct.

What constitutes retaliation?

Retaliation occurs when a contractor or grantee discharges, demotes, or otherwise discriminates against an employee because the employee made a protected disclosure.

How do I file a retaliation complaint?

Every OIG has a public website which provides information on how to file a whistleblower complaint. Most Often, the OIGs website will provide an online complaint form or a hotline address where a complaint may be filed.

You can use the reporting tool on this web site to identify the OIG with jurisdiction over your complaint, and to find a link directly to their hotline.