Congressional leaders called on the Department of Defense – Office of the Inspector General (“DoD IG”) to revise its interpretation of the defense contractor whistleblower statute, 10 U.S.C. § 2409. In January 2014, the DoD IG ruled that KMB client John Edwards had not engaged in protected activity when he blew the whistle on overbilling on a government contract because he had failed to make his report to the proper government official. While Mr. Edwards had reported the overbilling to two DoD officials responsible for managing the contract in question, the DoD ruled that the officials were improper recipients of the report because they were not responsible for contract "oversight." In a sharp rebuke, a group of Congressional leaders wrote a letter to the DoD IG rejecting that interpretation of protected activity under the statute and suggesting an interpretation which would have included the reports made by Mr. Edwards.
The letter from the bipartisan group came after the Project on Government Oversight ("POGO") wrote a letter to the DoD IG in May 2014 asking that the IG reconsider its ruling regarding Mr. Edwards' complaint of whistleblower retaliation. Katz, Marshall & Banks partner David J. Marshall stated: “This is a positive development not only for John but for any employee of a defense contractor who has reported wrongdoing to DoD personnel involved in managing a contract. We are confident the IG will do the right thing, heed the Congressional letter, and abandon an interpretation of the statute that contradicts its plain language and ignores the realities of the contracting workplace.”
To learn more, or to access the letters from POGO and Congress to the DoD IG, read our blog post on these developments.