The Defense Department has inadequately protected from reprisals whistleblowers who have reported wrongdoing, according to an internal Pentagon report, and critics are calling for action to be taken against those who have been negligent.
The report, dated May 2011, accuses the officials, who work in the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General, of persistent sloppiness and a systematic disregard for Pentagon rules meant to protect those who report fraud, abuses, and the waste of taxpayer funds, according to a previously-undisclosed copy. The report was obtained by the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group.
A three-person team of veteran investigators at the Pentagon, assigned to review the performance of the “Directorate of Military Reprisal Investigations,” concluded in the report that in 2010 the directorate repeatedly turned aside evidence of serious punishments inflicted on those who had complained.
The actions included threatened or actual discharges, demotions, firings, prosecutions, and even a mental health referral. At least one of the alleged reprisals was taken because the complainer had written to Congress, an act that Pentagon regulations say is a “protected communication” immune from retaliation. Some of the other whistleblowers had alleged discrimination, travel violations, and “criminality,” the report states.
In all, the team disputed the directorate’s dismissal of more than half of the 156 whistleblowing cases it reviewed, and called for the directorate to revamp its procedures and start enforcing the protective rules.