JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington - For the first time, a mobile training team from the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office came to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to host a whistleblower reprisal investigations course for about 30 attendees, including nine from Regional Health Command-Pacific.
The four-day course, which took place Jan. 10 to 13, covered whistleblower reprisal investigations - from intake, report writing and analyzing evidence to quality assurance and records management.
"What we do is we introduce the students to a little bit of the history of whistleblower protections, then we talk about the statutes that cover military members -some of the civilian, non-appropriated funds and contractor statutes - but the focus is on USC 1034, which covers military members," said Linda Mann-LeClair, investigator and training officer, Administrative Investigation Division, DOD IG.
A whistleblower is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, dishonest or a violation of a regulation. Reprisal happens when a responsible management official takes an unfavorable personnel action against an individual, or withholds a favorable personnel action, because that individual made or was thought to have made a protected communication or disclosure.
Linda Mann-LeClair, who was joined by outreach officer and investigator Ken Sharpless, explained that the team teaches four resident courses per year in Washington, D.C. and up to five mobile training team courses a year, throughout the United States.
"This is the first one we've done in the great Pacific Northwest. Our host command has done a wonderful job bringing everything together," Mann-LeClair said.
RHC-P was the host command for the whistleblower reprisal investigations course.
"We organized and hosted the two instructors from DoD IG to provide training on how to conduct whistleblower reprisal investigations," said Tim Todaro, deputy command IG, RHC-P. "We invited IGs from the I Corps IG Office and other IGs from local IG Offices to attend the training.
"Last year, the I Corps IG Office hosted a Joint IG Course from DoD IG in which members of the RHC-IG Office participated in, and this was RHC-P IG Office's opportunity to return the favor."
The course involved not only classroom instruction but also practical exercises so that attendees are better trained and better equipped to deal with whistleblower reprisal investigations, Mann-LeClair said.
"I think it helps the members of Regional Health Command-Pacific have more tools and know best practices to get through these very complicated investigations," she said. "It also provides a really good networking opportunity - we have Air Force, Army, civilian, military. It gives them a lot of new channels that they can use ... It makes them a more well-rounded IG."
RHC-P attendees were from the region's IG office and the Command Judge Advocate Office. Todaro said there were many valuable lessons learned for all during the course.
"The course will help us in all aspects of conducting whistleblower reprisal investigations," Todaro said. "Given that whistleblower reprisal investigations can be very complex and challenging, we were provided useful templates and excellent investigative tools to assist us. Additionally, we were able to network with fellow IGs and attorney advisors from other commands and across the services."