How We Work
Government Accountability Project empowers whistleblowers to hold the powerful accountable and advocate for change. Through a combination of legislative initiatives, litigation, investigation, and educational outreach, we make sure truth tellers are heard, protected, and that the truth they expose matters.
Education & Partnerships
Through our Education & Partnerships Program, the Government Accountability Project shares our expertise about the essential role whistleblowers play in exposing abuses of public trust. By serving as a resource to key stakeholders, including journalists, public interest organizations, and others, we amplify support and advocacy for whistleblowers and the concerns they raise.
Top 10 Legislative Initiatives
- Congressional Accountability Act: As part of the Make It Safe Coalition, we are working to update the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to extend the whistleblower protections that are available to certain executive branch employees to legislative branch employees.
- House Whistleblower Ombudsman Office: We successfully advocated for the establishment of the House Whistleblower Ombudsman Office, and the 116th Congress established the office. Watch Senior Legal and International Analyst Samantha Feinstein testify before the House Appropriations Legislation Subcommittee on the importance of a whistleblower ombudsman office or read her testimony.
- Protect America’s Workers Act: Government Accountability Project reintroduced and is supporting this ongoing effort to modernize occupational safety whistleblower protection.
- Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) Reauthorization Act: When the act was introduced into the House, Government Accountability Project worked closely to achieve three primary legislative goals – jury trials, protection against retaliatory investigations, and realistic burdens of proof for employees to obtain stays – along with seven other recommendations. Nine out of the ten recommendations were accepted.
- Department of Energy Nuclear Regulatory Commission Whistleblower Act: Government Accountability Project submitted written testimony to recommend fixes to the language of the 2005 version of the Act. Changes would help overcome sovereign immunity objections that have prevented several whistleblowers from accessing a jury trial.
- Dodd-Frank Act: After a Supreme Court decision that canceled protection for internal whistleblowing in Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers, Government Accountability Project proposed amendments to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations so that in-house disclosures would be an alternative to reporting directly to the Commission. An amendment to the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 was introduced in the House. Government Accountability Project is also working on a companion bill in the Senate which would reform parts of the Dodd-Frank Act, including lowering the threshold for award eligibility, an anti-retaliation section to cover government employees, covering duty speech, and matching the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) anti-retaliation protections which include burden of proof, anti-gag protection, option for an administrative hearing, and other remedies.
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Whistleblower Bill: Government Accountability Project is working with partner organizations to create a program at the FTC that would award whistleblower disclosures that involve consumer privacy or security violations..
- Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) Whistleblower Protection Act of 2019: This bill would establish a whistleblower program that is similar to the one created at SEC, where whistleblowers may be incentivized to come forward when they witness violations of specific rules if they are eligible for a reward after the successful completion of a PCAOB disciplinary action. This bill would also provide PCAOB whistleblowers with protection from retaliation by their employers.
- Digital Realty Fix: This bill is an attempt to revise the language in the Dodd-Frank whistleblower protection that led the Supreme Court to unanimously hold that protection for internal disclosures was excluded. Government Accountability Project is working to promote this bill along with a stronger Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) anti-retaliation shield.
- No Disrupting Accountability (NDA) Act: Government Accountability Project is working with House sponsors on language that will strengthen existing anti-gag protections, extend due process challenge rights against gag orders including a WPA Individual Right of Action and access to court, and provide remedies that will help enforce salary cutoff penalties for gagging congressional communications.
Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act
For more than ten years, Government Accountability Project led a bipartisan coalition of over 400 organizations and companies in a campaign to restore whistleblower rights for federal government employees and contractors. On November 27, 2012, Government Accountability Project’s tireless work paid off and the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) was signed into law with unanimous bipartisan support. With the passage of the WPEA, millions of federal workers were given the rights they needed to report government corruption and wrongdoing safely.
Government Accountability Project worked for years to move forward the WPEA and had all but succeeded until late 2010, when hours before the congressional session ended, a senator placed an anonymous hold on the legislation and it couldn’t move forward. In response, Government Accountability Project teamed up with NPR’s On the Media in order to investigate which senator was responsible for the anonymous hold. Through the investigative campaign, senatorial staff confirmed one-by-one, in response to their constituents’ calls, that their office was not responsible for this injustice. After a month, all but five senators had verified they did not place the hold. Shortly after the search had been narrowed down to two senators, the WPEA was reintroduced to the Senate and passed.
The WPEA overhauled its predecessor, the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 (WPA). Although initially viewed as a landmark good government law, in practice, the WPA was too weak to protect many of the whistleblowers it was intended to defend. Under the WPA, federal employees were not eligible for whistleblower protections if they
- were not the first person who disclosed given misconduct
- made a disclosure to a coworker
- made a disclosure to a supervisor
- disclosed the consequences of a policy decision, or
- blew the whistle while carrying out job duties
The WPEA closed administrative loopholes, ended the Federal Circuit Court’s monopoly on appeals, and did not roll back any of the rights granted in the WPA.
Although the WPEA was a major win both for Government Accountability Project and whistleblowers across the country, no piece of legislation is perfect. Therefore, Government Accountability Project continues to advocate for key changes such as correcting a provision that rolls back current administrative due process rights and institutionalizing the stimulus contractor whistleblower provision. Since the WPEA was signed into law in 2012, Government Accountability Project has testified before Congress regarding the law’s implementation and utilized the WPEA to defend government whistleblowers.
Government Accountability Project leads coalitions to build public awareness of the value of whistleblowing across government and the private sector, as well as stand up for whistleblowers and better whistleblower law when it’s needed most. Notable coalitions include the Make It Safe Coalition, the New Rules on Global Finance Coalition, and the Safe Food Coalition.
Government Accountability Project spearheads the Make It Safe Coalition – a nonpartisan, trans-ideological network of 50 good government, taxpayer, scientific, labor, civil liberties, and law enforcement organizations dedicated to strengthening protections for public and private sector whistleblowers. Over 400 groups have endorsed our efforts to strengthen whistleblower legislation, on behalf of millions of members across the country.
Additionally, our International Whistleblower Rights team works with global alliances to further anti-corruption efforts through the New Rules on Global Finance Coalition and the Publish What You Pay Coalition.
Government Accountability Project is also a founding member of the Safe Food Coalition (SFC), which works closely with Congress and food safety agencies to ensure the integrity of our food supply. Our Public Health team is also involved with the Patient Consumer Coalition and the Integrity of Science Working Group. Collectively, they work to ensure that scientists are able to warn the public about dangerous drugs and medical devices, as well as uphold scientific integrity, even when politically unpopular.
Since our founding in 1977, Government Accountability Project has defended over 8,000 whistleblowers. Currently, Government Accountability Project’s team includes upwards of 18 attorneys who litigate claims across a variety of different fields. Government Accountability Project is a one-stop shop: We make sure our clients’ rights are upheld and use the truth to hold government accountable.
Government Accountability Project litigates whistleblowing claims through the following areas of expertise:
- Public Health
- Energy, Environment & Climate Change
- National Security
- Corporate & Financial Accountability
- International Whistleblower Rights
- Government Accountability
In-house attorneys and policy analysts help substantiate and litigate whistleblower claims. We harness our industry-leading expertise and comprehensive knowledge of the justice system to provide the best legal counsel possible to our clients. Government Accountability Project has our clients’ back so they won’t face mistreatment for doing their jobs.
If you are a whistleblower and are in need of Government Accountability Project’s legal services, please fill out our intake form.
For decades, Government Accountability Project investigators have exposed corruption and kept both public and private organizations accountable to the law. Our full-time investigators have contributed to major publications on topics ranging from public health to national security and human rights.
The Government Accountability Project recognizes that whistleblowers do not only need support in the courtroom, but also guidance in sharing their stories with the public. In addition to working with our litigators, our team identifies, investigates, and exposes wrongdoing and corruption throughout the government and within corporations, both domestically and internationally. Our investigators allow whistleblowers to share their experiences with a larger audience and harness the power of public opinion to put pressure on public and private organizations to galvanize reform.
Government Accountability Project has published thousands of articles in hundreds of major news outlets in the last 40 years. Our investigative reporting has been featured in major publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Financial Times.
If you would like to report a confidential tip to Government Accountability Project’s investigators, please fill out our intake form.