Nearly half of 14,000 federal employees surveyed said they had witnessed or experienced a prohibited personnel practice while on the job in 2016, including rules protecting whistleblowers.
The percentage of employees aware of violations jumped to 46 percent in 2016 from 34 percent in 2010, according to a new report from the Merit Systems Protection Board.
The report notes that perceptions of reprisal for whistleblowing nearly doubled between 2010 and 2016, from 8.1 percent to 14.3.
The report notes: “Employees need to believe that they can safely disclose wrongdoing, and this is less likely to occur if they believe they have seen others experience retaliation for it, or if they feel that disclosures they made in the past led to retaliation by agency officials.”
The report is the latest in a series from MSPB on the “PPPs,” a list of 14 disallowed workplace actions on matters ranging from improper preferences in hiring, advancement or other career actions to retaliation against whistleblowers.
Although the latest of the MSPB’s occasional “merit principles” surveys on the topic was conducted three years ago, the agency has been releasing findings only in pieces since then, partly because the lack of a quorum on its governing board since early 2017–and a total lack of members since early this year–leave it unable to make recommendations based on its findings.
(On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security heard testimony from MSPB nominee B. Chad Bungard, the board’s former general counsel. More here from the National Whistleblower Center on the MSPB.)
The report notes that the number of complaints filed about personnel practices rose from 2,415 to 4,124 during the same period. The increase may have been due to stepped-up agency education programs. It also notes that in 2016, 21.7 percent of women and 18.4 percent of men reported they had observed or experienced sex-based discrimination. That compares to 11.2 percent of women and 11.8 percent of men in 2010. More than 20 percent reported race discrimination, up from 13.7 in 2010.