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Whistleblower reforms...in our lifetime

There�s a flurry of Congressional activity in favor of real, substantive whistleblower reforms. These reforms are vital. Whistleblower protections have lost their teeth over the years and are in critical need of an overhaul. Today the House Committee on Government Reform�s Chair, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) introduced a version of HR 3281 which amends the problematic Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). The new language, if passed, would remove the tremendous burden of proof on whistleblowers to come up with �irrefragable� evidence that any wrongdoing actually occurred. It would also mean that federal employees would not be left in the lurch without protection if they blew the whistle as a part of their job duties or for going through the chain of command with their concerns. If this legislation passes it would also require the Comptroller General to review all security clearance revocations occurring after 1996 � a welcome requirement since losing one�s security clearance in most federal national security agencies effectively means losing one�s job. The word from the Hill is that the Democrats are going to accept Davis�s language with no amendments. This is unfortunate because they may be passing up even more inclusive whistleblower protections such as those in Rep. Platt�s (R-PA) version of HR 3281 or in Rep. Markey�s (D-MA) bill, which has the best language of all, but is currently still being drafted. But for now, we�ll take what we can get. In the Senate, just last week the Committee on Governmental Affairs approved S.2628, the Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act � which is expected to fill in the gaps of the existing WPA. It is awaiting a floor vote in the Senate. POGO is also encouraging the passage of amendments to the 9/11 Commission legislation that would strengthen whistleblower protections. POGO is currently in the process of writing a report on the flaws in the current law. The pending legislation in the House and Senate is too important to overlook; please visit POGO�s action center and encourage your senators and representatives to act now on behalf of federal whistleblowers.

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