We believe accountability is derived from relying on experts and facts, and by dealing transparently with stakeholders, be they consumers, the voting public, or corporate shareholders. Accountability requires honesty and openness, and it is often thwarted by those who bend to pressure from politically powerful corporate interests.
Too often, the government will ignore or hollow out laws that keep the public safe when influenced by corporations, allowing them to exploit these inadequate environmental regulation laws. We need greater accountability in both the public and private sectors. Our team acts as a watchdog over corporate and governmental abuses that threaten the environment and our health.
Whistleblower protection and environmental protection are conceptually, legally, and historically intertwined. Ensuring transparency and accountability in the development and enforcement of pollution standards and other regulations is so essential for compliance and associated environmental quality benefits that the earliest major environmental laws in the United States – the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act – included some of the first provisions for protecting whistleblowers.
While developments in whistleblower protection have left these provisions inadequate and outdated, Government Accountability Project is engaged in bringing them up to date and creating more uniform standards. Until those improvements can be made, however, we work with whistleblowers to navigate the existing laws, and continue to search for novel means of advocacy. These include our Know Your Rights Campaigns, white papers, blogs, social media outreach, and working with coalitions across a wide spectrum of organizations protecting whistleblowers, the environment, and scientific integrity.
Many government and corporate employees and contractors positioned to take advantage of whistleblower protection provisions are simply unaware of them, and tend to harbor misconceptions regarding their rights. Many refrain from challenging their superiors or speaking out about their concerns because they fear retaliation. Spreading information about whistleblower rights is as important for us as protecting these truth-tellers when they come forward.
To help close the information gap, we engage in public education efforts geared towards agencies with an environmental mission, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior, and the Department of Energy. We reach out to federal employees and contractors in order to inform and educate them, and to help shift the dominant paradigm that vilifies whistleblowers to one that recognizes their essential role in promoting government accountability and scientific integrity. We are also engaged with congressional policymakers to continually improve our body of whistleblower legislation and to encourage robust oversight of the executive branch. Since environmental degradation is an international issue, we also work with international bodies to ensure that whistleblower protections become available wherever environmental threats are present.
Courageous individuals continue to come forward to hold our elected and appointed officials accountable. Whistleblowers are powerful. They are the insiders and experts who provide the ultimate layer of corporate and government accountability.