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GAO Report Reveals Lack of Oversight in DOL Whistleblower Protection Program

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A report released by the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) reveals that the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) lacks adequate resources for processing whistleblower complaints.  As a result, many whistleblower complaints are not investigated, while others fail to be recorded in OSHA’s database.  According to GAO auditors, nearly half of the whistleblower investigators lack the necessary equipment to meet the needs of their jobs such as a portable printer or laptop computer.  Additionally, the majority of whistleblower investigators have reported that they need more training to effectively address cases under some of the more complex federal statutes such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. 

To address the existing problems with the administration of the whistleblower program, GAO encourages DOL to take the following actions: 

  • Establish a mechanism to ensure that the data in OSHA’s management information system is accurate; 
  • Revise OSHA’s audit directive to clarify the criteria that regions must use in conducting focused and comprehensive audits;
  • Develop interim audit milestones to ensure that audits are completed within specified time frames;
  • Establish minimum standards for equipment and computer software that investigators need to conduct their jobs; and
  • Improve the method in which the ARB tracks its appeals by directing the ARB to conduct routine, systematic and independent reviews of its case tracking system.

All recommendations are currently being considered by DOL.

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