On Thursday, a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General report detailed how a VA office created to protect whistleblowers has failed in several ways.
The VA Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection, established in 2017, was designed to prevent retaliatory actions against whistleblowers, help protect their identities, and hold senior members of the office accountable for misconduct.
Since its implementation, the office has “floundered” in its efforts to protect whistleblowers, according to the report. VA officials created an office environment so hostile towards whistleblowers that it was “sometimes alienating to the very individuals it was meant to protect.”
The report also found that in some cases, the VA Office was allowing whistleblower complaints to be forwarded to the office targeted for investigation.
The “significant” deficiencies cited in the report echo the accounts told by VA employees, who report a culture of retaliation against whistleblowers within the VA. In June, three VA employees testified before Congress about the retaliation they suffered at the hands of their supervisors after bringing the wrongful treatment of patients at VA hospitals to light.
Read more about VA whistleblowers: Culture of Retaliation Continues to Plague Department of Veterans Affairs.