Legislation Reintroduced to Expand Whistleblower Protections for Federal Employees

Legislation has been reintroduced to strengthen whistleblower protections for federal employees.

Legislation was reintroduced in the House this week to strengthen whistleblower protections for federal employees who expose wrongdoing in the federal government.

The Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act of 2021 (H.R. 2988) is being reintroduced by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Maloney last introduced the bill in 2020.

Details About the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act

The bill’s intent is to strengthen whistleblower protections for federal employees by doing the following:

  • Clarify that no federal government employee—including the President or Vice President of the United States—may interfere with or retaliate against a federal employee sharing information with Congress.
  • Prohibit agencies from launching retaliatory investigations against employees who blow the whistle.
  • Prohibit retaliation against an employee for disclosing to a supervisor any violations of law, gross mismanagement or waste, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
  • Limit public disclosure of the identity of an employee who engages in whistleblowing activity.

Maloney also says it will help to ensure due process and equitable relief for federal employees by doing the following:

  • Provide timely consideration and appeals for employees who request a delay in adverse personnel actions.
  • Grant whistleblowers access to a jury trial in federal district court if the Merit Systems Protections Board does not issue a decision in 180 days (or 240 days for complex cases).
  • Clarify that whistleblowers who prevail are entitled to recover attorney fees and be granted necessary relief to make them whole, such as through training, restoration of seniority, or a promotion consistent with the employee’s record.

The legislation would also extend Title 5 protections to noncareer Senior Executive Service employees, Public Health Service officers or applicants, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s commissioned officer corps.

Maloney introduced the legislation following a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing intended to “enhance accountability and transparency, improve efficiency, combat waste and fraud, and build public trust in the federal government.”

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.