Events Run Sunday March 8 – Wednesday March 11; Aims to Raise Awareness of Pending Whistleblower Rights Legislation

(Washington) – The Government Accountability Project (GAP) and members of the Make-It-Safe Coalition are pleased to announce this year’s annual Washington, D.C. whistleblower conference, the National Whistleblower Assembly (NWA), beginning Sunday, March 8, with events running throughout Wednesday, March 11. The primary goal of the conference is to convince Congress to pass a credible Whistleblower Protection Act, which would finish a nearly decade-long effort. Toward that end, the schedule provides a forum for prominent whistleblowers, spotlights key issues in panel discussions, and offers legal educational seminars on rights granted from seven new whistleblower laws passed since 2006.

The event will assemble “a critical mass for change,” explained Tom Devine, Legal Director of GAP, which is organizing the conference. “Since last fall, Congress and two presidents have found time to spend over $1.5 trillion of taxpayer funds. They are overdue finding time for accountability. There is no excuse to delay enactment of whistleblower rights to protect the federal workforce responsible to keep the spending surge honest.”

The assembly kicks off on Sunday with a host of workshops that will educate and match whistleblowers and NGOs for partnerships to reinforce each others’ efforts. Click here for a full list and updated schedule of events for NWA:

Included in the numerous events over the four day conference is a one-hour panel discussion focusing on privacy rights, entitled “Domestic Surveillance: The Next Steps.” This panel will take place from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in a Congressional office (TBA) on Tuesday, March 10. It will feature key whistleblowers and leaders who have challenged warrant-less wiretapping since 2005 when it was first exposed. Moderated by GAP Homeland Security Director (and Justice Department whistleblower) Jesselyn Radack, the panel will focus on: the current FISA provisions; lawsuits against the DoJ regarding Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the use of domestic surveillance; the Obama administration’s public stance on the matter; and what interested citizens, groups and politicians can do to ensure privacy rights. That panel will feature Thomas Tamm, a former Department of Justice attorney whose whistleblowing disclosure has revealed the full scope of surveillance; Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, and Michael MacLeod-Ball, Chief Legislative and Policy Counsel for the ACLU.

The following focused, in-depth whistleblower workshops, panels and seminars may be valuable to journalists or congressional staff:

  • Protecting the Nation’s Food Supply
  • Priorities in Reforming the FDA
  • Whistleblowing in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • National Security Rights and Whistleblowers
  • Using OSHA Laws to Remedy Retaliation
  • How to Navigate the Office of Special Counsel
  • Instituting a National Whistleblower Protection Act
  • Mortgage Fraud Workshop

Additionally, several prominent whistleblowers and politicians will speak, including:

  • Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo)
  • Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md)
  • Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, tobacco industry whistleblower and subject of The Insider
  • Coleen Rowley, FBI Whistleblower and Time’s Co-Person of the Year for 2002

Click here for a full list and updated schedule of events:

Individual co-sponsors of the NWA include GAP, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Public Citizen, Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), National Whistleblowers Center (NWC), No Fear Coalition, the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC-DCSL), and the International Association of Whistleblowers (IAW).

The NWA has four cornerstone objectives:

  • Matching whistleblowers to those who should benefit from their dissent, such as NGOs, investigative journalists and government investigators to form more effective partnerships making a difference;
  • Lobbying Congress to strengthen key whistleblower protections, including long overdue legislation overhauling the Whistleblower Protection Act, and comprehensive corporate rights expanding on five precedents in the last Congress;
  • Teaching whistleblowers how to use and act on their rights under new whistleblower laws;
  • Providing a living history forum on Wednesday where whistleblowers can make a record of why they risked their careers to defend the public, and what happened.

NWA participants will also strategize on how to assist and help hold our leaders to President Obama’s commitment made his first day in office:

“Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known.”

On Tuesday morning, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest, and GAP will provide a comprehensive lobby training prior to our direct legislative advocacy. Please note that participants will lobby in small groups, through scheduled appointments with the home state office when possible, to advocate for “best practices” whistleblower rights.

All events at the National Whistleblower Assembly are open to the public.

Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.