U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT OF FORMER NAVY EMPLOYEE’S WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 12/2/02
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Today, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced the settlement of a prohibited personnel practice complaint filed by Ms. Patricia Reagan, a former Navy employee. Several years after leaving her employment with the Department of Navy, Ms. Reagan filed a complaint with OSC alleging that she was compelled to leave her former position in 1995 when her supervisors subjected her to a hostile work environment consisting of: changing her duties, reducing her work, and giving her an inappropriate letter of counseling, after she made whistleblower disclosures.
Ms. Reagan was the Customer Support Division Head for the Navy Public Work Center’s (PWC) Information Systems Department. She alleged that the hostile work environment began after she advised the Information Systems Department Head (her supervisor) as well as other agency officials, that she believed the supervisor had knowingly improperly signed off on fraudulent cost reports submitted by a sub-contractor. She alleged that the sub-contractor had submitted fictitious names on billing records. The fraudulent claims were later discovered to have cost the government more than one million dollars.
Several years after she left her job, Ms. Reagan took her allegations of fraud to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. That office investigated and secured an indictment of Ms. Reagan’s former supervisor. The supervisor entered an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office under which he pled guilty to a felony in exchange for being placed on probation. The contractor also pled guilty and received a prison sentence.
Following the investigation (and before OSC issued a formal finding on the merits) OSC requested that the agency consider resolving Ms. Reagan’s complaint through settlement. In response, the agency agreed to provide Ms. Reagan with reimbursement for some of the expenses she incurred when she left her Navy position. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the Navy, without admitting liability, agreed to pay Ms. Reagan $23,000 for these expenses.
Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan thanked the Navy for its cooperation in arriving at a “full and fair” settlement of Ms. Reagan’s allegations of reprisal. She also stated that this resolution “positively concluded a complex matter without the need for future time-consuming litigation.” Kaplan also praised Ms. Reagan for “her integrity and persistence in bringing these allegations to the attention of appropriate authorities.”
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is an independent federal agency that investigates and prosecutes complaints alleging the commission of a prohibited personnel practice, including whistleblower retaliation. In cases where an OSC investigation reveals reasonable grounds to believe a prohibited personnel practice has been committed, and an agency declines to voluntarily provide relief to a complainant, OSC will prosecute a petition for corrective action before the Merit Systems Protection Board. In many cases, such as this one, OSC obtains relief for complaining parties through settlement, before it makes a formal finding regarding the merits of the complaint.