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New Bills Aim to Protect Federal Employee Whistleblowers

The sponsors behind a pair of recently introduced bills say that they would help protect federal employees from whistleblower retaliation.

Legislation has been introduced in the House that is designed to strengthen whistleblower protections afforded to federal employees.

The Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act (H.R. 7935) would clarify that no federal official may interfere with a federal employee’s ability to share information with Congress as well as limit disclosure of a whistleblower’s identity, prohibit retaliatory investigations, expand whistleblower protections to all non-career appointees in the Senior Executive Service, and provide access to jury trials for whistleblowers.

A second bill being introduced in conjunction with the whistleblower legislation is the Federal Employee Access to Information Act (H.R. 7936). A press release on the bill states that it “would protect federal employees from retaliation for filing Freedom of Information Act requests or Privacy Act requests.”

Both bills were introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Companion legislation will be introduced in the Senate as well for the Federal Employee Access to Information Act (S. 4438) by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Leahy said in a statement, “All Americans, including federal employees, have the right to file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and know what their government is doing. FOIA is a critical tool for exposing government wrongdoing, and federal employees should never be terminated or retaliated against for availing themselves of our nation’s premier transparency law. I’m proud to be the Senate sponsor of the Federal Employee Access to Information Act, which would prohibit retaliation against federal employees for simply pursuing FOIA requests and exercising their right to know.”

About the Author

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