In September, the Project On Government Oversight wrote about the bipartisan letter that senior leaders from the Senate and House sent to the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (IG) Jon Rymer regarding the IG’s narrow interpretation of the contractor whistleblower protection law. POGO sent a similar letter to the DoD IG in May.
On October 22, 2014, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) received a reply from the IG. Most importantly, the IG stated that his office will “adopt a broader approach” to the contractor whistleblower protection law and that one case has been reopened. All indicators point to the case being that of John Edwards, which was the subject of POGO’s and Congress’s letters to Rymer.
The IG also confirmed his office’s commitment to protecting whistleblowers. He stated that he “approved a legislative proposal to extend [the law] to broaden whistleblower protections” by extending protections “to contractor employees who cooperate with or disclose information to [the IG’s office] in the course of whistleblower reprisal investigations.” That improvement would provide protection for witnesses who step forward.
This is a great example of the Hill working together and an agency altering its actions as a result. It is a win for whistleblowers and taxpayers, and an illustration that effective congressional oversight, not just finger-pointing, is still alive.