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Project on Government Oversight

House Passes Federal Whistleblower Bill, S. 743

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September 28, 2012 | By: Angela Canterbury

Contact: Chelsea Bland, American Federation of Government Employees, (202) 639-6419, blandc@afge.org

Contact: Tom Devine, Government Accountability Project, (240) 888-4080, tomd@whistleblower.org

Contact:  Michael Ostrolenk, Liberty Coalition, (202) 639-6419, michaelostrolenk@gmail.com

Contact:  Pete Sepp, National Taxpayers Union, pressguy@ntu.org

Contact:  Angela Canterbury, Project On Government Oversight, (202) 347-1122, acanterbury@pogo.org

Contact:  Keith Wrightson, Public Citizen, 202. 454.5139, kwrightson@citizen.org

Contact:  David Williams, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, davidwilliams@protectingtaxpayers.org

Contact: Celia Wexler, Union of Concerned Scientists, (202) 390-5481, cwexler@ucsusa.org

House Passes Federal Whistleblower Bill, S. 743;
Senate poised to approve bill in November

We applaud today’s House passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, S. 743 as amended (WPEA). The unanimous approval demonstrates strong bipartisan support for this government accountability legislation to expand protections for federal employees who disclose wrongdoing and protect the public trust.  House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) was joined by co-sponsors Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), retiring Representative Todd Platts (R-PA), Steve Pearce (R-NM), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in advocating for passage of this crucially needed reform legislation.  We cannot thank these champions and their staff enough for their commitment to the WPEA.

The WPEA includes critically important upgrades to the broken system for federal whistleblowing to better serve taxpayers.  Though it does not include every reform that we have sought and will continue to seek, the bill will restore and modernize government whistleblower rights by ensuring that legitimate disclosures of wrongdoing will be protected, increasing government accountability to taxpayers, and saving billions of taxpayer dollars by helping expose fraud, waste and abuse. Overall, the WPEA’s provisions will restore free speech rights closed through arbitrary loopholes and create new protections for federal scientists and Transportation Security Administration officers.  The bill also will strengthen due process rights, such as a two-year experiment in normal access to appeals courts (effectively breaking the Federal Circuit’s monopoly on appellate review); provide compensatory damages; create whistleblower ombudsmen at Inspectors General offices; and strengthen authority by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to help whistleblowers through disciplinary actions against those who retaliate, and to file briefs in court supportive of whistleblower rights.    

In order for these non-controversial, common-sense reforms to become law, the Senate must pass the WPEA without delay upon their return from the election recess. The House cosponsors and their dedicated staff worked closely with their Senate colleagues, longtime whistleblower champion, Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), and his cosponsors Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), and Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and their committed staff, to reach a bipartisan compromise that could pass this usually contentious Congress. In doing so, we are closer than ever to this critical reform becoming law. After more than 14 years of hearings, votes and compromises, and with unparallel public support from groups with diverse interests and ideologies from the National Taxpayers Union to government employees’ unions, Congress is poised to complete this decade long reform. Federal whistleblowers and taxpayers have been waiting long enough.

A menu of key reforms can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/PwafFC

The bill can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/QFy66a

Make It Safe Coalition

The Make It Safe Coalition is a non-partisan network whose members pursue a wide variety of missions that span defense, homeland security, doctors and patient advocates, natural disasters, scientific freedom, consumer hazards, and corruption in government contracting and procurement.  We are united in the cause of protecting those in government who honor their duties to serve and warn the public.

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Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO’s investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.