Policy Letter

POGO and 100+ Orgs Urge Congress: Restore Strong, Comprehensive Whistleblower Rights

To: Sen. Joseph Lieberman; Sen. Susan Collins; Sen. Daniel Akaka; Sen. George Voinovich; Rep. Henry Waxman; Rep. Tom Davis; Rep. Todd Platts; Rep. Chris Van Hollen

The undersigned organizations, representing millions of Americans, write to support the completion of the landmark, eight-year legislative effort to restore a credible Whistleblower Protection Act. We offer our support to expeditiously conclude the process of reconciling House and Senate passed versions of this vital good government legislation, H.R. 985 and S. 274.

Unfortunately, every month that passes has very tangible consequences for scores of whistleblowers who still lack viable legal rights. In just the first three months of this year, since both chambers passed their versions of the legislation, whistleblowers have a 2-49 win-loss record in initial decisions from administrative hearings at the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). For final rulings by the MSPB, the record is 2-53 under the current Chair. Since January, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which has a monopoly on appellate review, has ruled against whistleblowers in another ten consecutive decisions on the merits, leaving a track record of 2-200 since October 1994 when Congress last strengthened the law!

We stand ready to provide any information that would help expedite the process, and to help you come to agreement on any unresolved issues. Any compromise should protect several critical provisions, which have already passed with overwhelming support. It is crucial that the final bill:

• Grant employees the right to a jury trial in federal court;

• Specifically protect federal scientists who report efforts to alter, misrepresent, or suppress federal research;

• Extend meaningful protections to FBI and intelligence agency whistleblowers;

• Strengthen protections for federal contractors, as strong as those provided to DoD contractors and grantees in last year’s defense authorization legislation;

• Extend meaningful protections to Transportation Security Officers (screeners);

• Neutralize the government’s use of the “state secrets” privilege;

• Bar the MSPB from ruling for an agency before whistleblowers have the opportunity to present evidence of retaliation;

• Provide whistleblowers the right to be made whole, including compensatory damages;

• Grant comparable due process rights to employees who blow the whistle in the course of a government investigation or who refuse to violate the law; and

• Remove the Federal Circuit’s monopoly on precedent-setting cases.

We know that your offices share the commitment of every group signing the letter below and we deeply appreciate the years of effort to create more accountability in government. Please let us know how we can participate to expeditiously complete this badly needed good government reform. Once the reconciled version becomes law, the real winners will be the public!


Adele Kushner, Executive Director

Action for a Clean Environment

Rochelle Becker, Executive Director

Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility

Gil Mileikowsky, M.D.

Alliance for Patient Safety

Linda Lipsen, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs

American Association for Justice (AAJ)

Mary Alice Baish, Acting Washington Affairs Representative

American Association of Law Libraries

F. Patricia Callahan, president and general counsel

American Association of Small Property Owners

Christopher Finan, president

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

Caroline Fredrickson, Director, Washington Legislative Office

American Civil Liberties Union

John Gage, National President

American Federation of Government Employees

Alexandra Owens, Executive Director

American Society of Journalists and Authors

Ms. Bobbie Paul, Executive Director

Atlanta WAND (Women's Action for New Directions)

Nancy Talanian, Director

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

William Snape, Senior Counsel

Center for Biological Diversity

Charlie Cray, Director

Center for Corporate Policy

Gregory T. Nojeim, Senior Counsel and Director, Project on Freedom, Security & Technology

Center for Democracy and Technology

J . Bradley Jansen, Director

Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights

Merrill Goozner, Director Integrity in Science

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Linda Lazarus, Director

Center to Advance Human Potential

Evelyn M. Hurwich, President and Chair

Circumpolar Conservation Union

David B. McCoy, Executive Director

Citizen Action New Mexico

Deb Katz, Executive Director

Citizens Awareness Network

John Judge

Coalition on Political Assassinations 9/11 Research Project

Michael McCray, Esq., Chair

3.5.7 Commission on Judicial Reform

Sarah Dufendach, Vice President for Legislative Affairs

Common Cause

Clarissa Duran, Director

Community Service Organization del Norte

Joni Arends, Executive Director

Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

Daniel Hirsch, Member, Executive Committee

Concerned Foreign Service Officers

Matthew Fogg, President

Congress Against Racism & Corruption in Law Enforcement (CARCLE)

Ellen Bloom, Director of Federal Policy

Ami Gadhia, Policy Counsel

Consumers Union

Mary Elizabeth Beetham, Director of Legislative Affairs

Defenders of Wildlife

Sue Udry, Director

Defending Dissent Foundation

Ben Smilowitz, Director

Disaster Accountability Project

Lisa Walker, executive director

Education Writers Association

Gregory Hile


Chuck Broscious, President

Environmental Defense Institute

John Richard

Essential Information

George Anderson

Ethics in Government Group

Steven Aftergood, Project Director

Federation of American Scientists

Marilyn Fitterman, Vice President

Feminists For Free Expression

Andrew D. Jackson, Asst. Campaign Coordinator

Focus-On-Indiana for Judicial Reform

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director

Food and Water Watch

Bob Darby, Coordinator

Food Not Bombs/Atlanta

Tom Ferguson, Coordinator

Foundation for Global Community/Atlanta

Ruth Flower, Legislative Director

Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)

Conrad Martin, Executive Director

Fund for Constitutional Government

Gwen Marshall, Co-Chairman

Georgians for Open Government

Paul F. Walker, Ph.D., Legacy Program Director

Global Green USA

(The US Affiliate of Green Cross International, Mikhail Gorbachev, Chairman)

Tom Devine, legal director

Government Accountability Project

Molly Johnson, Area Coordinator

Grandmothers for Peace, San Luis Obispo County Chapter

Jenefer Ellingston

Green Party of the United States

James C. Turner, Executive Director

HALT, Inc. -- An Organization of Americans for Legal Reform

Tom Carpenter, Executive Director

Hanford Challenge

Helen Salisbury, M.D.

Health Integrity Project

Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., President

Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Donald Soeken, President

Integrity International

Jim Murtagh, Co-Chair

International Association of Whistleblowers

Mory Atashkar, Vice President

Iranian American Democratic Association

Mark S. Zaid

James Madison Project

Brett Kimberlin, Director

Justice Through Music

Michael D. Ostrolenk, National Director

Liberty Coalition

Jill McElheney, Founder

Micah's Mission

Ministry to Improve Childhood & Adolescent Health

James Landrith, Founder

The Multiracial Activist

Larry Fisher, Founder

National Accountant Whistleblower Coalition

Tinsley H. Davis, Executive Director

National Association of Science Writers

Joan E. Bertin, Esq., Executive Director

National Coalition Against Censorship

Sally Greenberg, Executive Director

National Consumers League

Terisa E. Chaw, Executive Director

National Employment Lawyers Association

Zena D. Crenshaw, Executive Director

National Judicial Conduct and Disability Law Project, Inc.

Paul Brown, Government Relations Manager

National Research Center for Women & Families

Pete Sepp, Vice President for Policy & Communications

National Taxpayers Union

Colleen M. Kelley, National President

National Treasury Employees Union

Steve Kohn, President

National Whistleblower Center

Amy Allina

National Women's Health Network

Sr. Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director

NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby

Ron Marshall, Chairman

New Grady Coalition

Rick Engler, Director

New Jersey Work Environment Council

Alice Slater, Director

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, New York

David A. Kraft, Director

Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS)

Michael Mariotte, Executive Director

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Sean Moulton, Director, Federal Information Policy

OMB Watch

Patrice McDermott, Executive Director


Joe Carson, Chair

P. Jeffrey Black, Co-Chair

OSC Watch

Judy Norsigian, Executive Director

Our Bodies Ourselves

Betsy Combier, President and Editor


Former Special Agent Darlene Fitzgerald

Patrick Henry Center

Paul Kawika Martin, Organizing, Political and PAC Director

Peace Action & Peace Action Education Fund

Rev. Paul Alexander, Ph.D., Director

Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice

David Banisar, Director, FOI Project

Privacy International

Ronald J Riley, President

Professional Inventor's Alliance

Danielle Brian, Executive Director

Project On Government Oversight

Ellen Thomas, Executive Director

Proposition One Committee

David Arkush, Director, Congress Watch

Public Citizen

Jeff Ruch, Executive Director

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

Lucy A. Dalglish, Executive Director

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Kirsten Moore, President and CEO

Reproductive Health Technologies Project

John W. Whitehead, president

The Rutherford Institute

Adrienne Anderson, Coordinator

Safe Water Colorado and Nuclear Nexus Projects

Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center

(Whistleblower Anderson v Metro Wastewater)

Dr. Roland Chalifoux

The Semmelweis Society International (SSI)

Clint Brewer, President

Society of Professional Journalists

Kevin Kuritzky

The Student Health Integrity Project (SHIP)

Daphne Wysham, Co-Director

Sustainable Energy and Economy Network (SEEN)

Jeb White, Executive Director

Taxpayers Against Fraud

Paul Taylor

Truckers Justice Center

Francesca Grifo, Ph.D., Director Scientific Integrity Program

Union of Concerned Scientists

Dane von Breichenruchardt, President

U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation

Gary Kalman, Director, Federal Legislative Office

U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S.PIRG)

Dr. Jeffrey Fudin, Founder

Veterans Affairs Whistleblowers Coalition

Ann Harris, Executive Director

We the People, Inc

Mabel Dobbs, Chair Livestock Committee

Western Organization of Resource Councils

Janet Chandler, Co-Founder

Whistleblower Mentoring Project

Linda Lewis, Director

Whistleblowers USA

Kim Witczak


Cc: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer

House Minority Leader John Boehner