Report | July 11, 2022

Whistleblower Reprisal Investigation: Program Executive Office | Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency | Fort Meade, Maryland (DODIG-2022-111)

Administrative Investigations

Publicly Released: July 13, 2022

 

Executive Summary

We conducted this investigation in response to a reprisal complaint filed with the DoD Hotline by a Complainant, General Grade 15 (GG-15), in the Program Executive Office (PEO) of the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) at Fort Meade, Maryland. The Complainant alleged that various management officials counseled him, reduced his rating on an element of his 2020 performance evaluation, threatened his employment, and referred him for a psychiatric examination in reprisal for reporting to the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, during his previous employment at Fort Bragg, that he was subjected to a hostile work environment, harassment, and discrimination in violation of Title VII. Furthermore, he alleged reprisal for reporting to the DCSA Inspector General (IG) and the DoD Hotline substantial and specific danger to public safety, gross mismanagement, abuse of authority, gross waste of funds, and violations of DoD regulations and policies. Finally, he alleged reprisal for reporting to the DCSA’s Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office (DEO) the DCSA’s failure to restore the Complainant’s paid leave as directed by a court order in relation to his EEO complaint against the Army in 2018.

The Complainant made four protected disclosures from February 7, 2018, through December 4, 2020, and was subjected to one qualifying personnel action. The Complainant also made one other alleged disclosure that was not protected. The Complainant alleged the following subjects took the following actions against him.

  • Ms. Patricia P. Stokes (retired), a former member of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service and former Director in the Defense Vetting Directorate (DVD) of the DCSA, gave him a low rating on an element of his 2020 performance evaluation.
     
  • Ms. Andrea Luque, a Defense Intelligence Senior Leader and former Senior Advisor for the DVD of the DCSA, had a role in the low rating on his 2020 performance evaluation.
     
  • A GG-15 threatened his employment and referred him for a psychiatric examination.
     
  • Mr. Troy L. Littles (retired), former member of the Defense Intelligence Senior Executive Service and former Chief Operating Officer at DCSA Headquarters, had a role in the low rating on his 2020 performance evaluation.

We found no evidence that Ms. Luque or the GG-15 took or failed to take, or threatened to take or fail to take, any personnel action against the Complainant. We found that Ms. Luque had no role in reducing the Complainant’s rating on his 2020 evaluation, and that the GG-15 did not order or threaten the Complainant with a psychiatric examination or threaten his employment.

We found that Ms. Stokes and Mr. Littles were the management officials responsible for taking the action against the Complainant with regard to the low rating on an element of his performance evaluation. Ms. Stokes and Mr. Littles knew that the Complainant made protected disclosures to the EEO office, an IG, and the DEO. A preponderance of the evidence demonstrated that the Complainant’s protected disclosures were a contributing factor in Ms. Stokes’s decision to give the Complainant a minimally successful rating in one element of his performance evaluation. Without clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, we determined that Ms. Stokes would not have issued the Complainant his 2020 performance evaluation with a reduced rating of 2 in one of the performance elements absent the Complainant’s protected disclosures. Therefore, we substantiated the reprisal allegation against Ms. Stokes.

Based on knowledge and timing, the Complainant’s protected disclosures were a contributing factor in Mr. Littles’ decision to approve of and issue to the Complainant a minimally successful rating (rating of 2) in one element of his performance evaluation. However, clear and convincing evidence established that Mr. Littles would have approved of and issued to the Complainant the rating of 2 in an element of his performance evaluation absent any protected disclosure. Therefore, we did not substantiate the allegation that Mr. Littles approved of and issued to the Complainant a rating of 2 in an element of his performance evaluation in reprisal for his protected disclosures.

We did not send a tentative conclusion letter to Ms. Stokes as she did not respond to any of our attempts to interview her for this investigation.

We recommend DCSA officials take appropriate action to remedy the Complainant’s 2020 performance evaluation.

Ms. Stokes retired from Government service. Accordingly, we will forward our report to the Director of Washington Headquarters Services for inclusion in Ms. Stokes’s personnel file.