The Special Inquiries Division (SID) conducts criminal and administrative investigations of U.S. Postal Service executives and OIG and Postal Inspection Service personnel. SID also conducts workplace environment inquiries as well as whistleblower reprisal investigations.
Whistleblower Reprisal Activity
The Postal Service is not covered by the Whistleblower Protection Act, but has its own policy governing whistleblower retaliation. The policy prohibits retaliation against an employee because the employee (or applicant for employment) disclosed information the employee reasonably believes concerns:
- a violation of any rule, law or policy, or
- a gross waste of funds, gross mismanagement, abuse of authority or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
Generally, the misconduct is a violation of law, rule, or regulation, or a direct threat to public interest — fraud, health, safety violations, and corruption are just a few examples. The employee must reasonably believe his or her employer has committed a violation of some law, rule, or regulation; testify or commence a legal proceeding on the legally protected matter; or refuse to violate the law.
Our whistleblower activity during the reporting period of October 1, 2010, to September 30, 2011, included: 203 allegations received; 37 OIG investigations initiated; 50 investigations closed with no finding of retaliation or deferred to other adjudicative body; and 13 open investigations.
The Office of Investigations Workplace Environment unit reviews workplace environment and operational issues that may affect workplace climate in postal facilities throughout the country. The OIG Hotline is the usual source for the complaints, but occasionally members of Congress, the Governors, and postal management will raise concerns or forward complaints appropriate for review by the unit. Complaint topics range from sexual harassment and discrimination to workplace safety. Workplace Environment reviews are designed to identify systemic, rather than individual issues, and foster postal management efforts toward providing employees a stress- and adversity-free work environment.
The unit accepts complaints from any postal employee, including OIG and Postal Inspection Service staff. Reviews may result in fact-finding reports to management or referral for specific suggested action, such as climate assessments.