The Office of Inspector General at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has issued a report on whistleblower rights and protections for FDIC contractors.
Whistleblowers play an important role in safeguarding the Federal Government against waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. Their willingness to report wrongdoing can contribute to significant improvements in Government programs and operations. In 2016, Congress enacted legislation to permanently expand whistleblower protections to the employees of Government contractors and subcontractors. The objective of our review was to determine whether the FDIC aligned its procedures and processes with laws, regulations, and policies designed to ensure notice to contractors and subcontractors about their whistleblower rights and protections.
We found that the FDIC did not consistently adopt or apply requirements intended to notify contractor and subcontractor employees about their whistleblower rights and protections. Specifically, the Whistleblower Rights and Notification Clause for contractors was not included in three of the nine FDIC contracts reviewed. Further, the FDIC’s Legal Division, under its separate contracting authority, had not adopted any whistleblower rights notification provisions for contractors nor included any whistleblower clauses in its contracts.
In addition, the FDIC had not established any requirements for its officials to ensure that contractors carried out their obligations under the FDIC’s Whistleblower Rights Notification Clause. Also, the FDIC had not verified that contractors informed their employees of whistleblower rights and protections, nor did the FDIC confirm that the contractors had inserted the clause in subcontracts exceeding $100,000.
We also found that the FDIC did not obtain Confidentiality Agreements from all of its contractors and contract personnel, as required. In addition, the guidance provided by the FDIC Legal Division may be unclear and confusing to contractor or subcontractor whistleblowers as to whom to report criminal behavior or allegations of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement.
We made 10 recommendations aimed at ensuring that contractors and subcontractors are properly informed of their whistleblower rights and protections.