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POGO Talks Whistleblower Support to Senate VA Committee

Photo of Elizabeth Hempowicz testifying on Whistleblower Protections

POGO's Elizabeth Hempowicz testifying at Senate hearing on the VA Patient Protection Act. Photo by POGO's Lydia Dennett

The Project On Government Oversight’s Elizabeth Hempowicz testified before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee about a new bill introduced by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) to protect whistleblowers as they are being processed by the VA. The bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL).

POGO has been investigating the VA since May 2014, and wouldn’t have been able to do so without whistleblowers. But, as Hempowicz pointed out in her testimony, retaliation against whistleblowers has been endemic to that organization. POGO supports the bipartisan Senate bill and views it as a great step toward changing the VA’s whistleblower culture.

Our suggestions to improve the legislation included granting whistleblowers options to report to individuals beyond their immediate supervisor, and forgoing the creation of a Central Whistleblower Office as it will be difficult to guarantee that it operates with sufficient independence within the VA.

Read Hempowicz’s full testimony.

Topics: Whistleblower Protections

Related Content: Veterans Affairs

Authors: Iulia Gheorghiu

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