FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 9, 2021
Congress Must Pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act
WASHINGTON — Government Accountability Project calls on Congress to pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act (PODA), which includes the Whistleblower Protections Improvement Act (WPIA). Embedded within PODA, the nonpartisan WPIA will allow future government employees to come forward without fearing retaliation – enabling higher transparency and accountability.
Under the previous administration, our nation witnessed how a president could abuse the powers of their office to protect and enrich themselves and their family and friends, target their political opponents, and solicit foreign interference to help their election – all at great cost to our democracy. Just as Congress did after Watergate, we must again enact new nonpartisan laws and reforms to strengthen our democratic institutions against future presidents – both Democrats and Republicans – who seek to undermine them.
The provisions within PODA will:
- Reinforce Congress’ power to enforce subpoenas, make government funding decisions, and conduct oversight over the executive branch;
- Prevent the president from granting pardons to family, friends, or themselves, using the office to enrich themselves, or utilizing government resources for campaign purposes;
- Explicitly prohibit political campaigns and parties from soliciting or accepting foreign assistance to influence an election.
Also within PODA, WPIA will strengthen protections for federal whistleblowers and inspectors general who report government waste, fraud, or abuse. Among other reforms, this piece of legislation does so by:
- Giving whistleblowers and all employees who communicate with Congress a jury trial in court to seek justice against retaliation if they do not receive a timely administrative ruling, a due process right available to nearly the entire private sector;
- Allowing federal whistleblowers to challenge retaliatory investigations when opened, the same as corporate, state, and local employees;
- Providing realistic standards for temporary relief, which is necessary because cases often drag out for 5 to 10 years; and
- Adding teeth to frequently ignored confidentiality rights.
The legislation finishes what Congress left on the table for those key issues when it passed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. With trillions of dollars in new spending, credible rights are needed more than ever for those who challenge fraud, waste, and abuse.
Government Accountability Project Legal Director Tom Devine said:
“Federal employees make the most significant whistleblowing disclosures to challenge abuses of power and misspending, but have the weakest rights in the U.S. labor force. Unlike corporate workers, civil service employees cannot seek justice in court from a jury and are helpless against retaliatory investigations that can remain open for years. While Congress has passed Whistleblower Protection Act rights unanimously four times, they are in a coma. Since 2017 there have not been members on the Merit systems Protection Board that enforces it, with a backlog approaching 4,000 civil service cases. Congress needs whistleblowers to meet the challenge of unprecedented spending. America’s taxpayers deserve accountability as much as America’s shareholders.”
Contact: Andrew Harman, Communications Director
Phone: (202) 926-3304
Government Accountability Project
Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, Government Accountability Project’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, Government Accountability Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.