The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has made it known that it is working on new policies, training and guidelines to create a better culture for whistleblowers within the organization. However, VA employees and the whistleblower community believe the culture of retaliation continues to affect life at the agency.
The wait time scandal at the VA that was first revealed in 2014 did a lot to bring attention to the deficiencies of the department, but three VA whistleblowers say the retaliatory nature of the department that existed for decades continues to be a problem even after new legislation was passed by congress to attempt to curtail it.
In one example, the Senior Executives Association reported the situation experienced by senior executive Leslie Wiggins, a network director for the VA hospital network. According to SEA, the VA’s Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection (OAWP) investigated her five separate times and threatened to fire her. VA management disagreed with the removal, so the office then attempted to convince her supervisor to suspend her.
Wiggins’ legal team reviewed the evidence OAWP gave to the official overseeing her case only to find the documents had been tampered with. The department ultimately found the charges against her had no evidence to support them, but OAWP continued to investigate. Wiggins’ legal team believes OAWP acted in such a way because she had uncovered and disclosed unlawful conduct by the accountability office.
Whistleblower reports crucial to a healthy government
There is still a long way for the VA to go with regard to its whistleblower culture and its efficiency of operation, but without reports by whistleblowers, nothing would have changed.
Therefore, if you are a government employee and are aware of wrongdoing within your agency, work with a trusted whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group to submit a whistleblower tip and protect your privacy and your rights in the process.