Holding the Government Accountable

Protecting Whistleblowers and Civil Servants

The Problem

The Problem

Federal employees are the backbone of our government. Their knowledge, expertise, and integrity can ensure that the government runs effectively and honestly. Civil servants are also the first line of defense against corruption and abuse of power. But federal employees don’t have the safeguards they need to be able to blow the whistle on systemic issues without fear of retaliation. And protections that ensure federal employees cannot be fired for political reasons are under threat. No one should be forced to choose between protecting themselves and protecting the public. We are working to make it safer to tell the truth and ensure our government is accountable to the people it serves.

Collage of a whistle, money, silhouetted figures, and text from the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act
Quick Facts

Did you know?

Congress has yet to ban retaliatory investigations against whistleblowers who come forward — even if what they blew the whistle on was substantiated. As a result, many whistleblowers who expose the truth for the public good end up paying for it with their reputation and careers.

Whistleblowers who speak up and suffer as a result can go years without any sort of recourse. While most federal whistleblowers can have their case heard by a special panel called the Merit Systems Protection Board, the board is currently dealing with a five-year backlog of cases. And worse, the board rarely rules in favor of the whistleblower — one study examining a year’s worth of cases found the board ruled in favor of the whistleblower only 7% of the time.

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump issued an executive order that would create a new category of employees within the federal branch, called Schedule F. This would allow agencies to bypass civil service laws and rules in hiring, firing, and management of these employees. Stripping these longstanding protections means federal employees could be fired for political reasons. These changes would make it much more dangerous for government employees to stand up for what they know is right, and they would leave agencies scrambling for staff qualified to do the work that keeps our government working.  

While President Joe Biden rescinded this order, other 2024 candidates have endorsed the plan.

What’s at Stake

What’s at Stake

Exposing Wrongdoing Can Ruin a Whistleblower's Career

Whistleblowers are frequently retaliated against for coming forward — through outright firing, or through sustained campaigns to force them to leave their jobs.

An Authoritarian President Could Gut the Federal Workforce

Without robust protections, thousands of civil servants could face the axe due to political motives or bias, compromising the quality and continuity of their expertise. We’re pushing to close the loophole that could make this possible.

Whistleblowers Are Incentivized to Stay Silent

Exposing problems caused by corruption, political pressure, incompetence, or illegal actions is dangerous. We’re pushing for reforms that would make it safer to tell the truth.

Read our investigation

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