Blowing the Whistle: Barriers to Federal Employees Making Disclosures

Blowing the Whistle: Barriers to Federal Employees Making Disclosures
Blowing the Whistle: Barriers to Federal Employees Making Disclosures
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This report compares data from Merit Principles Surveys conducted in 1992 and 2010 to describe the extent to which perceptions of retaliation against Federal employees who report wrongdoing remains a serious problem. The results indicate that if an agency creates a culture where its employees believe that management wants to be told about wrongdoing and will address issues raised by employees, then employees are more likely to notify management when they see a problem. The report also explains why agencies should do more to ensure that employees receive quality training about how they can disclose wrongdoing and how they can exercise their rights if they perceive that they have experienced retaliation for whistleblowing activities.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary i

Findings and Recommendations i

Introduction 1

Purpose 1

Survey Methodology 1

Wrongdoing, Whistleblowing, and Retaliation Over Time 3

Wrongdoing 4

Whistleblowing 8

Retaliation 9

Barriers and Motivators for Whistleblowing 15

Consequences of the Wrongdoing 15

Management Reaction to the Report 16

Current Perceptions of Agency Culture 20

Whom to Tell About Wrongdoing and Preserving Anonymity 21

Whom to Tell 22

Preserving Anonymity 23

Disclosures Matter 24

Conclusion 27

Appendix: 1992 and 2010 MPS Data for Whistleblowing 29


Federal employees, their supervisors, agency management, union personnel, especially Human Capital officers and employees across the U.S. Federal Government may be interested in this report.  Additionally, members of Congress, and Federal managers within the Office of Management and Budget, and Office of Personnel Management that is responsible for policy making authority may find this guide helpful as a reference with human resources and civil service matters.  Additionally, students pursuing research for courses within these fields, especially public administration, human resources, employment law, organizational development, and industrial-organizational psychology may find this primary source document that deals with civil service issues helpful for assignments.

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