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CHAPTER 53-MISCELLANEOUS RIGHTS AND BENEFITS
1034. Protected communications; prohibition of retaliatory personnel actions.
§ 1034. Protected communications; prohibition of retaliatory personnel actions1
(a) RESTRICTING COMMUNICATIONS WITH MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND INSPECTOR GENERAL PROHIBITED.-(1) No person may restrict a member of the armed forces in communicating with a Member of Congress or an Inspector General.
(2) Paragraph (1) does not apply to a communication that is
(b) PROHIBITATION OF RETALIATORY PERSONNEL ACTIONS.-(1) No person may take (or threaten to take) an unfavorable personnel action, or withhold (or threaten to withhold) a favorable personnel action, as a reprisal against a member of the armed forces for making or preparing
(A) a communication to a Member of Congress or an Inspector General that (under subsection (a)) may not be restricted; or
(B) a communication that is described in subsection (c)(2) and that is made (or prepared to be made) to
(i) a Member of Congress;
(ii) an Inspector General (as defined in subsection (j)); (iii) a member of a Department of Defense audit, inspection, investigation, or law enforcement organization; or (iv) any other person or organization (including any person or organization in the chain of command) des
1 For whistleblower protections for contractor employees of the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, see section 2409.
For whistleblower protections for contractor employees of civilian agencies, see section 315 of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (41 U.S.C. 265), set forth beginning on page 534.
Section 843 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993 (P.L. 102-190; 105 Stat. 1449) provides:
SEC. 843. WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS FOR MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES.
(a) REGULATIONS REQUIRED.-The Secretary of Defense shall prescribe regulations prohibiting members of the Armed Forces from taking or threatening to take any unfavorable personnel action, or withholding or threatening to withhold a favorable personnel action, as a reprisal against any member of the Armed Forces for making or preparing a lawful communication to any employee of the Department of Defense or any member of the Armed Forces who is assigned to or belongs to an organization which has as its primary responsibility audit, inspection, investigation, or enforcement of any law or regulation.
(b) VIOLATIONS BY PERSONS SUBJECT TO THE UCMJ.-The Secretary shall provide in the regulations that a violation of the prohibition by a person subject to chapter 47 of title 10, United States Code (the Uniform Code of Military Justice), is punishable as a violation of section 892 of such title (article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice). (c) [omitted].
ignated pursuant to regulations or other established administrative procedures for such communications.
(2) Any action prohibited by paragraph (1) (including the threat to take any action and the withholding or threat to withhold any favorable action) shall be considered for the purposes of this section to be a personnel action prohibited by this subsection.
(c) INSPECTOR GENERAL INVESTIGATION OF ALLEGATIONS OF PROHIBITED PERSONNEL ACTIONS.-(1) If a member of the armed forces submits to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense (or the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation, in the case of a member of the Coast Guard when the Coast Guard is not operating as a service in the Navy) an allegation that a personnel action prohibited by subsection (b) has been taken (or threatened) against the member with respect to a communication described in paragraph (2), the Inspector General shall expeditiously investigate the allegation. If, in the case of an allegation submitted to the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, the Inspector General delegates the conduct of the investigation of the allegation to the inspector general of one of the armed forces, the Inspector General of the Department of Defense shall ensure that the inspector general conducting the investigation is outside the immediate chain of command of both the member submitting the allegation and the individual or individuals alleged to have taken the retaliatory action.
(2) A communication described in this paragraph is a communication in which a member of the armed forces complains of, or discloses information that the member reasonably believes constitutes evidence of, any of the following:
(A) A violation of law or regulation, including a law or regulation prohibiting sexual harassment or unlawful discrimination.
(B) Mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
(3) The Inspector General is not required to make an investigation under paragraph (1) in the case of an allegation made more than 60 days after the date on which the member becomes aware of the personnel action that is subject of the allegation.
(d) INSPECTOR GENERAL INVESTIGATION OF UNDERLYING ALLEGATIONS.-Upon receiving an allegation under subsection (c), the Inspector General shall conduct a separate investigation of the information that the member making the allegation believes constitutes evidence of wrongdoing (as described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of subsection (c)(2)) if there previously has not been such an investigation or if the Inspector General determines that the original investigation was biased or otherwise inadequate.
(e) REPORTS ON INVESTIGATIONS.-(1) Not later than 30 days after completion of an investigation under subsection (c) or (d), the Inspector General shall submit a report on the results of the investigation to the Secretary of Defense (or to the Secretary of Transportation in the case of a member of the Coast Guard when the Coast Guard is not operating as a service in the Navy) and the member of the armed forces who made the allegation investigated.
(2) In the copy of the report submitted to the member, the Inspector General shall ensure the maximum disclosure of information possible, with the exception of information that is not required to be disclosed under section 552 of title 5.
(3) If, in the course of an investigation of an allegation under this section, the Inspector General determines that it is not possible to submit the report required by paragraph (1) within 90 days after the date of receipt of the allegation being investigated, the Inspector General shall provide to the Secretary of Defense (or to the Secretary of Transportation in the case of a member of the Coast Guard when the Coast Guard is not operating as a service in the Navy) and to the member making the allegation a notice
(A) of that determination (including the reasons why the report may not be submitted within that time); and
(B) of the time when the report will be submitted. (4) The report on the results of the investigation shall contain a thorough review of the facts and circumstances relevant to the allegation and the complaint or disclosure and shall include documents acquired during the course of the investigation, including summaries of interviews conducted. The report may include a recommendation as to the disposition of the complaint.
(f) CORRECTION OF RECORDS WHEN PROHIBITED ACTION TAKEN. (1) A board for the correction of military records acting under section 1552 of this title, in resolving an application for the correction of records made by a member or former member of the armed forces who has alleged a personnel action prohibited by subsection (b), on the request of the member or former member or otherwise, may review the matter.
(2) In resolving an application described in paragraph (1), a correction board
(A) shall review the report of the Inspector General submitted under subsection (e)(1);
(B) may request the Inspector General to gather further evidence; and
(C) may receive oral argument, examine and cross-examine witnesses, take depositions, and, if appropriate, conduct an evidentiary hearing.
(3) If the board elects to hold an administrative hearing, the member or former member who filed the application described in paragaph (1)
(A) may be provided with representation by a judge advocate if
(i) the Inspector General, in the report under subsection (e)(1), finds that there is probable cause to believe that a personnnel action prohibited by subsection (b) has been taken (or threatened) against the member with respect to a communication described in subsection (c)(2);
(ii) the Judge Advocate General concerned determines that the case is unusually complex or otherwise requires judge advocate assistance to ensure proper presentation of the legal issues in the case; and
(iii) the member is not represented by outside counsel chosen by the member; and
(B) may examine witnesses through deposition, serve interrogatories, and request the production of evidence, including evidence contained in the investigatory record of the Inspector General but not included in the report submitted under subsection (e)(1).
(4) The Secretary concerned shall issue a final decision with respect to an application described in paragraph (1) within 180 days after the application is filed. If the Secretary fails to issue such a final decision within that time, the member or former member shall be deemed to have exhausted the member's or former member's administrative remedies under section 1552 of this title.
(5) The Secretary concerned shall order such action, consistent with the limitations contained in sections 1552 and 1553 of this title, as is necessary to correct the record of a personnel action prohibited by subsection (b).
(6) If the Board determines that a personnel action prohibited by subsection (b) has occurred, the Board may recommend to the Secretary concerned that the Secretary take appropriate disciplinary action against the individual who committed such personnel action.
(g) REVIEW BY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE.-Upon the completion of all administrative review under subsection (f), the member or former member of the armed forces (except for a member or former member of the Coast Guard when the Coast Guard is not operating as a service in the Navy) who made the allegation referred to in subsection (c)(1), if not satisfied with the disposition of the matter, may submit the matter to the Secretary of Defense. The Secretary shall make a decision to reverse or uphold the decision of the Secretary of the military department concerned in the matter within 90 days after receipt of such a submittal.
(h) POST-DISPOSITION INTERVIEWS.-After disposition of any case under this section, the Inspector General shall, whenever possible, conduct an interview with the person making the allegation to determine the views of that person on the disposition of the matter.
(i) REGULATIONS.-The Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of Transportation with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy, shall prescribe regulations to carry out this section.
(j) DEFINITIONS.-In this section:
(1) The term "Member of Congress" includes any Delegate or Resident Commissioner to Congress.
(2) The term "Inspector General" means
(A) an Inspector General appointed under the Inspector General Act of 1978; and
(B) an officer of the armed forces assigned or detailed under regulations of the Secretary concerned to serve as an Inspector General at any command level in one of the armed forces.
(3) The term "unlawful discrimination" means discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
(Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 80; Oct 19, 1984, P.L. 98-525, § 1405(19), 98 Stat. 2622; revised in its entirety P.L. 100-456, §846(a), Sept. 29, 1988, 102 Stat. 2027; P.L. 101-225, § 202, Dec. 12, 1989, 103 Stat. 1910; P.L. 103–337, § 531(a)–(g), Oct. 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 2756-2758.)
[§§ 1621 to 1624. Repealed. P.L. 101-510, § 1207(c), 104 Stat. 1665]