Legislation Introduced to Strengthen Whistleblower Protections

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By on November 2, 2011 in Human Resources with 0 Comments

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has introduced legislation (H.R. 3289) designed to strengthen provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Act, originally enacted in 1989, for federal employees who expose abuse, mismanagement, or criminal activity in federal agencies and programs.

Dubbed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, it is also co-sponsored by Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Todd Platts (R-PA), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Similar legislation was approved by the Senate last month.

The legislation would do the following:

  • Close judicially-created loopholes in existing whistleblower protection law
  • Extend whistleblower protection rights to some 40,000 airport baggage screeners
  • Increase avenues for intelligence community whistleblowers to safely and legally expose waste, fraud and abuse at intelligence agencies
  • Create specific protection in the law for scientific freedom
  • Ensure a permanent anti-gag statute to neutralize classifications like “classifiable,” “sensitive but unclassified,” “sensitive security information” and other poorly defined security labels
  • Establish consistency with other remedial employment laws
  • Strengthen the Office of Special Counsel’s ability to seek disciplinary accountability against those who retaliate, and provides the OSC with authority to file friend of the court briefs in support of whistleblower rights cases appealed from the administrative level
  • Create a pilot program to extend whistleblower protection to non-defense contractors.

“Whistleblowers play critical roles in exposing wrongdoing in government,” said Issa.”Federal employees who discover waste, abuse and mismanagement in their agency need to be able to alert agency leaders and Congress without fear of reprisal from supervisors, and within the confines of the law. This legislation establishes new protections for those who seek lawful ways to address abuse of taxpayer dollars.”

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce.