WASHINGTON -- The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is deeply concerned about provisions in the new short-term government spending measure that will not adequately protect whistleblowers at the Veterans Affairs Administration (VA) and do not belong in an appropriations bill.
POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said:
“The scandals at the VA made clear how important it is to have safe channels to expose problems that threaten the health care of veterans. Unfortunately, this legislation is not the answer to the challenges faced by VA whistleblowers.
The language buried in this bill sounds like it’s designed to protect whistleblowers -- but it may well be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. For example, it’s irresponsible to create a Central Whistleblower Office at the VA without proper independence since it could become an internal clearinghouse to help agency managers identify and retaliate against whistleblowers. This language should be removed before the Senate votes on this measure.
POGO has voiced these and other concerns for nearly a year, and there is language that adequately addresses these issues in another Senate bill - the Veterans First Act - which is widely supported by whistleblower advocacy organizations.”
For POGO’s full take on a similar measure -- including recommendations for fixing the VA’s whistleblower problem -- see POGO Policy Counsel Liz Hempowicz’s previous testimony before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.