On January 19, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Agency Financial Report, which contains information about the DoD OIG’s work and budget throughout the fiscal year. The document reports information about whistleblower cases and complaints from the Administrative Investigations (AI) component, which is responsible for handling DoD’s Whistleblower Program.
AI “investigates and oversees DoD Components’ investigations of allegations of misconduct against senior DoD officials and allegations of whistleblower reprisal and restriction from communication with an IG or member of Congress,” according to the report. AI “performs the DoD Whistleblower Protection Coordinator function, which is responsible for educating DoD employees on whistleblower statutory prohibitions and protections.” Additionally, AI “manages the DoD Hotline for confidential reporting of fraud, waste, and abuse and for detecting and preventing threats and danger to the public health and safety related to DoD programs, operations, and employees. The Whistleblower Reprisal Investigations (WRI) Directorate, which is responsible for the DoD’s Whistleblower Protection Program, is part of the AI Component.
The report states that during FY2021, WRI closed 12 “military and contractor reprisal investigations” and 11 “Non-Appropriated Fund Instrumentality, Military Restriction, and Presidential Policy Directive 19 investigations.” The Directorate “also closed 23 investigations” and “completed oversight reviews of 857 cases.” Additionally, WRI “resolved 29 whistleblower reprisal complaints through the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program.” For each of these numbers, DoD OIG provides the average timeframe in which the cases were handled.
The report also contains information about the DoD Hotline: in FY 2021, the Hotline “made 345 Priority 1 referrals,” 264 of which “were referred in one business day or less.” The DoD Hotline also reviewed 922 Hotline Completion Reports and 1,156 COVID-19 related complaints. The COVID-19 complaints ranged in topic, including “policy questions, training impacts, and concerns regarding vaccinations,” the report states. In FY 2021, the Hotline also “hosted four virtual Hotline Working Groups (HWG) that included 533 attendees from four DoD Components and Federal agencies.”
The report also includes a table that estimates totals for FY 2022 and 2023 for categories like various types of complaints received and closed. The table estimates an uptick in both Whistleblower Reprisal Investigations received and closed over the next two years. It also predicts that there will be an increase in DoD Hotline contacts received and cases referred.
Acting Inspector Sean W. O’Donnell simplified the numbers related to whistleblowing on the first page of the report: “During the reporting period, AI received 981 senior official complaints and 1,680 whistleblower reprisal and restriction complaints, and closed 804 senior official complaints and 1,676 whistleblower reprisal and restriction complaints.”