The Merit Systems Principles at Work: Federal Employee Whistleblower Protection

The Whistleblower Protection Act embodies one of the principles granted to federal employees: protection for whistleblowers.

The Federal Government, as an employer, holds itself to a high standard in the use, supervision and protection of its greatest asset – the federal workforce. That high standard is embodied in the “Merit System Principles” – a collection of nine principles, and their parts, that are designed to guide the conduct and management of the federal workforce.

Primary among these – despite being the ninth and final merit principle on the list – is protection for federal agency “whistleblowers.”

The whistleblower protection afforded to federal employee provides, in surprisingly plain English, as follows:

Employees should be protected against reprisal for the lawful disclosure of information which the employees reasonably believe evidences (A) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or (B) mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

This provision, known as the “Whistleblower Protection Act,” was fortified in 2012, to become the “Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012.  The Act is generally enforced by a federal watchdog agency, known as the “Office of Special Counsel” (“OSC”).

The OSC recently made protection of federal agency whistleblowers a priority assignment, and additional information regarding the role of the OSC in protecting federal agency whistleblowers can be found on its website, at

About the Author

Attorney Keith E. Kendall joined Scaringi Law in 2010 and has over 30 years of legal experience. He is based in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and focuses his practice in the areas of employment law, criminal defense and all areas of family law.