GAO calls for interagency effort to address transportation whistleblower claims
Washington – OSHA and the Department of Transportation should increase collaboration to protect whistleblowers in the transportation industry, concludes a report released March 19 by the Government Accountability Office.
The amount of transportation-related whistleblower claims filed with OSHA increased more than 60 percent between fiscal years 2008 and 2013, according to the report. Based on interviews with stakeholders, GAO cited several reasons for the increase, including having multiple safety-reporting mechanisms available (such as anonymous hotlines) and employee awareness of whistleblower protections.
However, GAO said a more coordinated effort is needed between the agencies. For example, although both DOT and OSHA officials agree that they should refer claims of retaliation or safety violations to each other, they have not developed a process for evaluating the referral system – so they cannot tell if the system is working.
GAO advised OSHA and DOT to evaluate their process for developing memorandums of agreement and incorporate best practices for collaboration, such as clearly defining roles and monitoring the progress of their effort. The agencies did not express agreement or disagreement with the recommendation, but OSHA said its memorandums of agreement already follow key practices.