WASHINGTON — Empower Oversight co-signed a joint letter (pdf) with other Make It Safe Coalition (MISC) members to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee expressing support for whistleblowers within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and calling on the committee to investigate the claims made by those whistleblowers.
MISC is a collection of groups that coordinate on whistleblower concerns. The other MISC-member groups that co-signed were the Government Accountability Project, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Project on Government Oversight, and Whistleblowers of America.
On June 9, 2023 from Empower Oversight and Whistleblowers of America wrote to the committee (pdf) and explained the whistleblowers’ concerns at length. The whistleblowers detailed privacy concerns with the VA’s Integrated Workflow Solution (VIEWS) system. Specifically, veterans’ and employees’ personal information, from their workplace ID to health information were found to be vulnerable, along with confidential whistleblower disclosures.
“The whistleblowers have raised grave concerns about privacy issues with the VA’s Integrated Workflow Solution (VIEWS) system, including mishandling veterans’ and employees’ personally identifiable information (PII), personal health information (PHI), and confidential whistleblower disclosures. This requires immediate attention and remedial action. According to the whistleblowers, the VIEWS system’s lack of accountability allows supervisors to store and share information about whistleblowers and their disclosures, creating a significant risk to the confidentiality of protected information and potential exposure to retaliation,” the letter said.
“In light of these allegations, we urge the Committee to thoroughly investigate the whistleblowers’ disclosures. Conducting a diligent and impartial investigation is essential both to addressing the alleged vulnerabilities and to sending a strong message that whistleblower disclosures are taken seriously by the Committee. In addition to investigating their information, it is essential that the Committee ensure they are shielded from retaliation—exactly what these whistleblowers allege the VA has failed to do,” the letter concluded.
A separate coalition of organizations representing more than one million veterans has also written a letter (pdf) supporting the whistleblowers and Senator Chuck Grassley’s efforts to ensure that their concerns are heard.
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