FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SEPTEMBER 15, 2022
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT PRAISES HOUSE PASSAGE OF WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION IMPROVEMENT ACT
Expresses disappointment in House Republicans for abandoning those who defend the taxpayers
Government Accountability Project praised the House for its 221-203 vote passing the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act today, which now moves to the Senate for action. The legislation would establish parity for federal government whistleblowers with 16 laws passed since the millennium for private sector employees in different industries. Most significantly, it would give them access to jury trials in federal court if they do not receive a timely administrative ruling.
Federal employees are the only significant sector of the labor force where whistleblowers do not have that right, although they make the nation’s most significant disclosures. It would upgrade the Whistleblower Protection Act to allow legal challenges to retaliatory investigations when opened. The legislation also –
- extends anti-retaliation rights for all congressional communications;
- restores WPA rights to scientists at the Public Health Service, the nation’s experts for pandemics;
- restores WPA rights for employees at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the nation’s experts for climate change;
- allows consideration of promotions for whistleblowers who wait for years to win, instead of restoring them to the same positions they had years earlier; and
- permits recovery of attorney fees for appellate court representation.
Republicans objected to the bill on grounds that whistleblowers already have more rights than they need, and that it would make it impossible to fire incompetents and wrongdoers. However, whistleblowers routinely wait three to five years to lose over 95% of decisions on the merits. Rather than creating an insurance policy, the legislation transforms fraudulent rights into genuine ones. Most telling, Republicans objected that the bill would reward those who attacked President Trump in the Ukraine impeachment hearings. In reality, the bill is totally irrelevant to the intelligence community employees who testified. It only covers non-intelligence workers.
Every study has concluded whistleblowers are more effective at exposing and catching illegality than audit departments, compliance departments, and law enforcement combined.
As a result, Government Accountability Project’s Legal Director Tom Devine observed,
“Through their votes, House Republicans reaffirmed their primary loyalty is to President Trump, not to those who risk everything to defend the taxpayers. Senate Republicans now face a litmus test whether at least in that chamber there is still a bi-partisan commitment for the best weapons available against fraud, waste, and abuse – whistleblowers exposing corruption that only can be sustained through secrecy. Today House Democrats reaffirmed their commitment to protect those who expose fraud, waste, and abuse, while House Republicans abandoned them. It is galling that the same Republicans who voted against rights praised whistleblowers for making congressional oversight possible. Whistleblowers need rights, not compliments.”
Contact: Tom Devine, Government Accountability Project Legal Director
Email: [email protected]
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.