Intel IG’s Decision to Rescind Job Offer Spells Trouble for Whistleblowers, Critics Say

Past deputy inspector general warns Senate Judiciary panel of a “blatant attack” on functions.

In another sign of shrinking authority for certain whistleblower officials in the Intelligence Community, a key hire for a deputy position at the IC inspector general’s whistleblower outreach operations learned this week that his long-in-the-works job offer was rescinded, Government Executive has confirmed.

John Hickey, a longtime reprisal investigator in the Defense Department inspector general’s office, was selected 18 months ago by a three-executive panel to move to the Intel Community to work on whistleblower outreach alongside former colleague Dan Meyer.

But as was reported last week in Foreign Policy and Government Executive, Meyer’s four-year-old operation devoted to training intelligence agency employees in the proper ways to disclose waste and fraud is being sidelined under the Trump administration for reasons IC officials have not clarified.

Hickey was anticipating a job start date of Oct. 30, said Rob Johnson, who retired recently as deputy inspector general for the Intel Community IG. “Now that process is complete, and I learned that IC IG has rescinded the job offer. This apparently came from IC IG management,” he said in a note to the Senate Judiciary Committee staff shared with Government Executive. “This unconscionable act leaves Mr. Hickey without a job in either office and is a blatant attack upon the whistleblower functions that were once an integral part of the IC IG.”

Johnson says another of Meyer’s deputies, a communications specialist, was “intimidated” into moving to a different job. As of Thursday, Hickey continues as an employee of the Defense Department IG, a spokesman there confirmed. A spokesman for the Judiciary Committee did not respond to inquiries.

Meyer and Hickey worked together on the Pentagon’s Civilian Reprisal Investigations Team that in 2011 were finalists for the prestigious Service to America Medals, known as the SAMMIE awards.

The Intel Community IG, which is being run on a part-time and acting basis by deputy IG Wayne Stone and Counsel Jeannette McMillian, declined through a spokesperson to comment on Hickey’s job status.

Kellie Wade, spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said in response to Government Executive inquiries that “The IC’s Whistleblower program is active, strong, and an essential part of the Intelligence Community mission.”

In addition, in response to recent press stories about the whistleblower program, a memo on the topic was sent to the staff on Thursday by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Principal Deputy DNI Sue Gordon: “We are committed to ensuring that all IC personnel have the means available to report wrongdoing to a variety of authorized individuals without compromising national security or retaliation,” it read. “The ODNI whistleblower protection program is active and strong.”