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Whistleblower Rights and Protections

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald has reiterated the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) commitment to whistleblower rights and protections. “VA takes whistleblower complaints seriously and will not tolerate retaliation against those who raise issues which may enable VA to better serve Veterans,” said VA Secretary Robert McDonald. “We depend on VA employees and leaders to put the needs of Veterans first and honor VA’s core values of ‘Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence.’”

What are whistleblower disclosures?

 In general, a whistleblower disclosure is information which the whistleblower (the person making the disclosure) reasonably believes evidences:

  • a violation of law, rule, or regulation;
  • gross mismanagement;
  • gross waste of funds;
  • an abuse of authority; or
  • a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

Whistleblower disclosures can save lives as well as billions of taxpayer dollars. They play a critical role in keeping our Government honest, efficient, and accountable. Recognizing that whistleblowers root out waste, fraud, and abuse, and protect public health and safety, Federal laws strongly encourage employees to disclose wrongdoing. Federal laws also protect whistleblowers from retaliation.

What is whistleblower retaliation?

In general, whistleblower retaliation occurs when an official who knew of the employee’s disclosure takes, does not take (e.g., in the case of a promotion), threatens to take, or influenced someone else to take a personnel action against the employee and the whistleblower disclosure was a contributing factor in the personnel action.

Whistleblower retaliation is a prohibited personnel practice (PPP). For more information about 13 PPPs click here.

If you believe you have experienced retaliation for filing a whistleblower disclosure, please contact:

VA’s commitment to whistleblower rights and protections

On an annual basis, the Secretary sends out a message to all employees reiterating VA’s commitment to equal employment, diversity and inclusion, and whistleblower rights and protections. The Secretary’s message also includes links to various avenues of redress for employees who have experienced retaliation because of whistleblowing or filing an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint.

On July 11, 2014, VA registered for and published an implementation plan to receive certification from OSC’s Section 2302(c) Certification Program. OSC’s Section 2302(c) Certification Program assists VA in meeting its statutory obligation to inform its employees about the rights and remedies available to them under the law. On October 3, 2014, OSC certified VA under its Section 2302(c) Certification Program.

Under the OSC certification process, VA:

(1) placed informational posters regarding prohibited personnel practices (PPP) (PDF), whistleblowing (PDF), and whistleblower retaliation (PDF) in a public setting at VA facilities and VA personnel and equal employment opportunity offices;

(2) provided and will continue to provide new hires with written materials on PPP, whistleblowing, and whistleblower retaliation. These materials can be found here and here;

(3) developed a webpage on PPP and whistleblower rights and protections; and

(4) developed, in cooperation with the OSC, supervisory training on PPP and whistleblower rights and protections. VA executives, managers, and supervisors must complete this training on a biennial basis.

Important information for employees who have signed non-disclosure agreements - PDF and Word.


  1. OSC Posters - By direction of the Deputy Secretary, the following posters must be placed in a public setting at all VA facilities and at all VA personnel and EEO offices:
    • Whistleblowing (PDF)
    • Whistleblower Retaliation (PDF)
    • Prohibited Personnel Practices (PDF)
  2. OSC Publications - By direction of the Deputy Secretary, new hires to VA must be provided with a hard-copy of the following publications during employee orientation:
    • Know Your Rights When Reporting Wrongs (PDF)
    • Your Rights as a Federal Employee (PDF)


  1. Prevention of Workplace Harassment and Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR Act) – VA employees must complete this training on a biennial basis. Employees may access this training through VA’s Talent Management System (course ID 8872).
  2. The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) offers training to federal agencies and non-federal organizations in each of the areas within OSC’s jurisdiction.  Employees may access this training through VA’s Talent Management System (course ID 3883649 or DVA-034 ).
  3. OSC offers training to Federal agencies in areas within OSC’s jurisdiction.