New Tool Helps Whistleblowers Across Government Learn More About Their Rights

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July 27, 2017

In anticipation of National Whistleblower Appreciation Day, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) is releasing a new tool designed to provide current and future whistleblowers more information about their rights.

POGO’s new tool, “Know Your Rights: Whistleblower Protections for Federal Sector Employees,” can be used to learn more about the legal protections and disclosure right for various types of federal sector employees. The information provided by the tool is not legal advice.

“This tool fills a desperate need in the whistleblower world. Employees working throughout the government are covered by different laws. For instance, some whistleblowers are given protections for disclosing unclassified information about wrongdoing to the media, others are not. This tool can help them figure out if the law that applies to them might actually protect them,” said Nick Schwellenbach, POGO’s director of investigations. “For an employee facing an onslaught of retaliation by management, the patchwork of protections available can be a confusing maze.”

POGO and its staff have been fighting for stronger whistleblower protections for over 35 years.

Schwellenbach formerly served as a communications director for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a federal agency that works with federal civilian whistleblowers. He authored a “Survivor’s Guide to Being a Successful Whistleblower in the Federal Government” in February. POGO, the Government Accountability Project, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility issued a book entitled, “The Art of Anonymous Activism: Serving the Public While Surviving Public Service,” fifteen years ago. The book is being revised to reflect legal and technological developments for release in the near future.

Many federal sector employees seek guidance on the legal protections available. The number of whistleblower claims and disclosures across the government rose significantly over the last decade and has plateaued at that elevated level over the last few years. That trend has not changed during the first five months of the Trump administration. According to previously unreported data that POGO obtained from an OSC spokesperson this week, the number of retaliation claims and disclosures filed with OSC from February through the end of June has been consistent with the last months of the Obama administration.

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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.

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