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POGO Unveils Tool to Help Federal Whistleblowers Know Their Rights

Know Your Rights Website

Photo courtesy of Pam Rutter/POGO.

Whistleblowers throughout the federal government face a patchwork of legal protections. It can be difficult to know what the law protects and what it doesn’t. POGO’s new “Know Your Rights: Whistleblower Protections for Federal Sector Employees” tool is a starting point for figuring it out.

In anticipation of National Whistleblower Appreciation Day this weekend, POGO is unveiling the new tool. It can be used to learn more about the legal protections and disclosure rights for the various types of federal sector employees, who are covered by different legal authorities. This is the first tool of its type to POGO’s knowledge.

Blowing the whistle can destroy an employee’s career, especially if they aren’t careful. Over the last decade, there has been a rising number of whistleblower disclosures and retaliation complaints made. While whistleblowers have been key to uncovering numerous problems in government—from deficient care at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals to Interior Department policy changes that could put coastal communities at greater risk because of climate change—most do not get the relief they seek when they face retaliation or the impact they believe is necessary to address the wrongdoing they disclose. The tool does not provide legal advice, but it can help whistleblowers make informed decisions by providing basic information on what the law covers and what it doesn’t. For legal advice, POGO recommends employees seek counsel from a qualified attorney with expertise in whistleblower law and not rely on the tool alone.

One major issue “Know Your Rights” highlights is whistleblowers across the federal sector have a patchwork of protections. Some whistleblowers are protected for unclassified disclosures to the media, while others are not. Certain types of disclosures are not protected. Some government agencies are authorized by law to accept disclosures or retaliation complaints from contractors and members of the military, while other agencies are not.

Our tool provides information for the six types of employees in the federal sector: federal civilian employees, members of the uniformed services, federal contractor employees, FBI employees, intelligence community employees, and intelligence contractor employees.

By: Nick Schwellenbach
Director of Investigations, POGO

Nick Schwellenbach Nick Schwellenbach's areas of expertise include: Government Oversight, Wasteful Contractor Spending, Open Government, Financial Sector, Whistleblower Issues.

Topics: Whistleblower Protections

Authors: Nick Schwellenbach

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