Federal Oversight

FBI managers labeled whistleblower an 'insider threat' in retaliation

A recent Department of Justice Office of Inspector General report found that a FBI technician was incorrectly labeled an “insider threat,” after making protected disclosures under the FBI Whistleblower Regulations.

“The managers referred misconduct allegations against the technician to the FBI’s Inspection Division and labeled him as an ‘insider threat.’ The OIG investigated the misconduct allegations against the technician and found that they were unsubstantiated,” the OIG report said.

The OIG was unable to interview the assistant special agent-in-charge who made the misconduct allegations, as he retired after his counsel was notified that OIG investigative interviews were imminent. According to the report, the labeling of the whistleblower as an insider threat was not a personnel action under the FBI Whistleblower Regulations, though other actions taken against the employee were.

“Specifically, the technician alleged, among other things, that an assistant special agent-in-charge and a supervisory special agent denied his promotion in retaliation for his disclosure that they improperly ordered him to stop going outside the FBI chain of command by making complaints to FBI executive management and threatened him with termination if he continued,” the OIG report said. “The OIG found that the technician made protected disclosures, and that FBI managers took the following personnel actions against the technician: denied his promotion; denied his request for a temporary duty assignment; twice placed the technician in Absence Without Leave status; and counseled him on performance and leave use.”

“The OIG concluded that the technician’s protected disclosures were a contributing factor in the personnel actions, and that clear and convincing evidence did not show that the FBI would have taken the same actions against the technician in the absence of his protected disclosures,” the report added.

The OIG referred the case to the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management in July 2017, which has responsibility for final adjudication and may choose to order corrective action for the whistleblower.

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