The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has imposed a 15-day suspension without pay upon a Senior Executive Service (SES) management official whom OSC concluded had engaged in whistleblower retaliation. OSC requested that NASA take this action after OSC’s investigation provided reasonable grounds to believe that the official had reassigned an employee, at least in part because the official believed that the employee had cooperated in an investigation conducted by the NASA Office of Inspector General (IG). The IG’s investigation had addressed allegations concerning the official’s inappropriate remarks and lunchtime use of alcohol.

In addition to imposing the 15-day suspension without pay, NASA has agreed to fund OSC-provided training on the Whistleblower Protection Act to employees and managers at the involved facility. Pursuant to NASA’s agreement to impose the suspension and the SES officialís agreement not to contest it, OSC has agreed not to release the identity of the SES official involved. The reassigned employee did not request a return to their former position; accordingly, the agreement did not provide for such relief.

Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan said, “The discipline imposed proves that OSC intends to ensure that high-level management officials are held accountable for violations of the Whistleblower Protection Act.” “The imposition of discipline is important” Kaplan said, “not just to address particular violations, but to deter others from engaging in similar misconduct.” Kaplan also stated that she “appreciates that NASA shares our commitment, as demonstrated by its agreement to impose the discipline and provide whistleblower training to its employees.”