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Project on Government Oversight

President Obama and Congressional Leaders, Make Whistleblowers a Priority in the Lame Duck

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November 18, 2010

Dear Mr. President, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Reid, Leader McConnell, and Leader Boehner:

We have heard that you all agree on at least one issue: This country must address our growing federal debt and cannot afford to tolerate waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government.  With this crisis looming, you must fulfill your commitments to taxpayers and enact strong legislation protecting federal whistleblowers in this lame duck session of Congress.

Protecting whistleblowers is a reform that has strong support across ideological lines.  The groups on this letter are united in this urgent request that federal employees, the foot soldiers in the war on waste, fraud and abuse, get the protections they deserve.  They must be able to fight back when they are fired, harassed or demoted in retaliation for their efforts to protect the public health and safety and taxpayer dollars.

Unfortunately, under current law the Merit Systems Protection Board rules against 99% of whistleblowers who file suit to defend themselves against retaliation. Fear of committing career suicide leads federal workers to become silent observers when they witness fraud, waste or abuse.  Congress can and must enact a whistleblower reform law that ensures that federal whistleblowers who are punished for speaking the truth have the tools they need to fight that retaliation, and win.  Congress must significantly strengthen these protections, but time is running short.  Passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act must be a priority for the lame duck.

We know that whistleblowers save money. Each year, whistleblower lawsuits under the False Claims Act save taxpayers nearly one billion dollars. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study of corporations globally found that employee disclosures were responsible for detection of more fraud than auditors, internal compliance officers and law enforcement combined.

There is no reason for inaction on noncontroversial, bipartisan whistleblower protection legislation.  If you are serious about responding to American voters, reducing the debt, and ensuring the integrity of government, you will do all you can to make “best-practices” whistleblower reform a reality this year.

Sincerely,

Affiliation of Christian Engineers

American Association of Law Libraries

American Civil Liberties Union

American Federation of Government Employees

AFGE Council 238

Association of American Publishers

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Californians Aware

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights

Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger

Coalition For Change, Inc.

Concerned Citizens of Petersburg

Congress Against Racism And Corruption in Law Enforcement

Conservation Northwest

D.C. Employment Justice Center

Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO

Disaster Accountability Project

Energy Justice Network

Ethics in Government Group

FAA Whistleblowers Alliance

Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association

Fund for Constitutional Government

Focus On Indiana - Legal Reform Campaign

Foundation for Global Community/Atlanta

Fund For Constitutional Government

Government Accountablity Project

Help Abolish Legal Tyranny (HALT)

Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings

Implode-Explode Heavy Industry, Inc.

International Association of Whistleblowers

Liberty Coalition

MPD Productions, Inc.

National Coalition of Organized Women  

National Family Farm Coalition

National Forum On Judicial Accountability (NFOJA)

National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc.

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

National Taxpayers Union

National Treasury Employees Union

New Media Rights

New Mexico Environmental Law Center

New Orleans Women’s Shelter

Northwest Environmental Advocates

OAK - Organizations Associating for the Kind of Change America Really Needs

OMB Watch

OpenTheGovernment.org

Oregon Wildlife Federation

POPULAR, Inc- Power Over Poverty Under Laws of America Restored       

Private Citizen, Inc.

Project On Government Oversight

Public Citizen

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

Semmelweis Society International

Sustainable Energy and Economy Network

Texas State Community Council - Abilene Division

The Employment Law Group

U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation

U.S. Justice Watch

Union of Concerned Scientists

Voices for Corporate Responsibility