More than 14,000 Federal Workers Filed Whistleblower Cases from 2014-2018. Exposing Misconduct.

More than 14,000 Federal Workers Filed Whistleblower Cases from 2014-2018

May 28, 2020

Probationary employees—generally those with less than 1 or 2 years of federal service—can be especially vulnerable to reprisal because they have fewer protections from adverse personnel actions, including termination, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found.

GAO found that existing data are not sufficient to determine if the rates of filing whistleblower disclosures, retaliation complaints, or both vary by probationary status. The average annual number of probationary and permanent federal employees from fiscal years 2014 to 2018 was approximately 1.9 million employees.

Over this time frame, an average of approximately 2,800 employees—about 0.15 percent—filed complaints each year, says GAO. “Existing data were not sufficient to determine probationary status of employees for over 18 percent of each year’s complaints. Therefore, it is not possible to determine whether probationary employees file at lower, comparable, or higher rates than their prevalence in the overall employee population,” notes the report. Specifically, probationary employees represented about 13.5 percent, on average, of the federal workforce, and GAO estimates that they filed from 6.6 percent to 18.2 percent of complaints.

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