Earlier this month, the Attorney General announced an ongoing commitment to the Insider Threat Program created by President Obama to combat leaks of classified information from the administration and an expanded focus on the investigation and prosecution of leaks. POGO and others have repeatedly raised the need to clearly define the differences between insider threats and whistleblowers. However, it has been recently reported that the Department of Energy has hung new posters to deter leaks as part of the Insider Threat Program. Unfortunately, those posters don't include legally required language to ensure that employees are aware of their legally protected right to report wrongdoing.
In response, POGO has filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency charged with protecting federal employees from retaliation for blowing the whistle, urging OSC to investigate this instance and any other similar occurrences.
POGO’s Danielle Brian issued the following statement:
“Whistleblowers are the nation’s first line of defense against waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality within the federal government. Even if inadvertent, deterring whistleblowing in an effort to stymie leaks makes the federal government less effective and less accountable. We recognize the security risks posed by insider threats and leaks of classified information—however—this communication by DOE management could be chilling legitimate whistleblowing because it fails to provide information about whistleblower rights, or distinguish between leaks of classified information and disclosures of unclassified government wrongdoing.
A key component to any remedy is a clear communication from the highest levels of DOE to all employees and contractor staff that they are protected for blowing the whistle.”