Over 260 groups call on Biden to improve whistleblower protections
This article features Government Accountability Project and was originally published here.
More than 260 organizations urged President Biden and Congress to support freedom of speech protections for whistleblowers by making improvements to protections.
The Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit that works with whistleblowers and on whistleblowing legislation, led a letter on Thursday with other groups calling for Biden and congressional leaders to strengthen U.S. whistleblower laws to match or exceed those of other democratic nations.
“Truth shared by whistleblowers fuels oversight mechanisms by shining a light on existing weaknesses, inefficiencies, and injustices. We must protect those who courageously speak out about abuses of public trust that undermine our nation’s safety and security and threaten our democracy,” they wrote.
They called for America’s whistleblower rights to include giving whistleblowers the right to challenge retaliatory investigations, extending whistleblower rights beyond protection from workplace retaliation and giving whistleblowers a legal defense against civil or criminal liability, among other provisions.
“It does not matter whether the issue is economic recovery, vaccine or prescription drug safety, environmental protection, infrastructure spending, election safety, national health insurance, or foreign policy. We need conscientious public servants willing and able to call attention to waste, fraud, and abuse on behalf of the taxpayers,” they wrote.
Other groups on the letter include American Association for Justice, Center for Media and Democracy, CodePink, Democracy 21, Food & Water Watch, Greenpeace USA, Issue One, National Federation of Federal Employees, Public Citizen and the Washington Coalition for Open Government.
The Government Accountability Project is also advocating for passage of anti-retaliation protections for police officers who disclose their colleagues’ abuses of authority and lawbreaking, and for Congress to pass the COVID-19 Whistleblower Protection Act.
The bill was first introduced by then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who is now vice president, in June and would prohibit retaliation against workers for disclosing waste, fraud or abuse of COVID-19 relief funds, among other provisions.
Edward Snowden, a former government contractor, famously leaked classified information during the Obama administration and went to reporters with information instead of using the formal whistleblower procedures in the government. In another famous case, former President Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine that started his first impeachment trial was reported through a whistleblower complaint.