Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Whistleblower Protections for Subcontractor Employees

Contracts awarded after July 1, 2013 have enhanced whistleblower protection provisions. Based on a provision of the 2013 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) signed into law last January, subcontractor employees have some new protections when blowing the whistle on fraud, waste and abuse. See our previous posting on this subject for details of the provision. Essentially, the new law gives subcontractor employees the same protections against reprisals that are now afforded to employees of prime contractors.

This provision is not retroactive to contracts (or subcontracts) awarded prior to July 1, 2013 which may discourage some subcontractor employees from reporting instances of fraud, waste, and abuse in the near term. The DoD-IG (Inspector General) however expects more calls to its hotline as a result of this new law. In 2006, it received 16 calls to its hotline. By 2012, the number had increased to 85 reports. To handle the projected increase, the DoD-IG has increased its staff by 30 percent.

According to the DoD-IG, past whistleblower allegations have included

  • Equipment being thrown out when it is perfectly good
  • Billing against one contract for work performed on another
  • Swapping in personnel that don't have the requisite expertise to perform the work.

On a related note, to contractors and subcontractors alike, don't forget to display a hotline poster.

On a cautionary note to potential whistleblowers, not every disclosure is protected. Know the rules on who you can report you concerns without fearing reprisal.

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