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Whistleblowers Reporting to Law Enforcement

Agencies and Investigators

Since September 11, the FBI (which can enforce any federal law and specializes in the most complex cases) has become less involved in the government fraud field. This leaves more responsibility to the various Inspectors General and the Government Accounting Office. IG agents investigate and audit their individual agencies, although some mainly handle thefts and other less complex cases. The GAO investigates bid-rigging complaints and other matters, usually upon legislators' request. Local police may also become involved, usually collaborating with federal investigators.


Many employment lawyers counsel using only anonymous tips. They can be personally cathartic, and minimize the chance of retaliation. However, anonymous tips also rarely lead to reform of any sort. Most agents have extensive case loads, so generally tips from anonymous sources are quickly put at the bottom of the ever-increasing to-do pile. Here's a more detailed analysis to help you choose.


Another Catch-22 for whistleblowers is when to report the problem. Waiting too long before contacting law enforcement can make legitimate concerns seem mere personal sour grapes. On the other hand, contacting law enforcement too early can enable managers to retaliate or create a hostile work environment, because internal investigators invariably talk to others in the same chain of command. Thus, some federal employees choose to consult with an attorney or Independent Organization for advice about the inclinations of a particular IG office or whether the case is polished enough to present.


Employee-witnesses and agents also often have different perspectives about written statements. Ultimately, the legal system relies on this paperwork, so an agent ultimately will document whistleblowing allegations. The report's accuracy can become a major issue (especially where the investigation craters), as is whether the employee will be able to look at it at all.


Links to Law Enforcement Websites
Bullet Federal Bureau of Investigation field offices
Bullet Drug Enforcement Administration
Bullet GAO Fraudnet
Bullet IGS Links
General federal agency search links
Bullet GAO's 1997 Investigators' Guide to Sources of Information
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