This blog post from GAP’s Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) calls out the USDA for being disingenuous in its public messaging surrounding its proposed poultry inspection plan. Last month, a USDA official suggested that a CDC study indicated increasing line speeds at poultry processing plants – a key component of the plan – does not impact worker health. The CDC then challenged the USDA on its “misinterpretations,” stating that its data drew no such conclusion and should not be applied to more than the single plant targeted in the study.
Many whistleblowers have been raising concerns about the USDA poultry plan for years, including USDA’s own poultry inspectors. FIC continues to bring their concerns to light.
More coverage of yesterday’s fantastic announcement from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) that he will form a new Senate Caucus focusing on whistleblower protection over the next several months. GAP Legal Director Tom Devine praised the action.
Key Quote: Tom Devine, legal director at the Government Accountability Project, said now is the perfect time for a whistleblower caucus to form. The whistleblower advocate envisioned the caucus would not just provide oversight of existing laws, but also introduce and rally support for new measures.
The caucus is “a badly needed booster shot for the end game of whistleblower rights advocacy,” Devine said, adding it will give lawmakers “a chance to move beyond lip service and roll up their sleeves.”
Devine agreed with Grassley that recent victories for whistleblowers “look good on paper but are not worth the paper they are written on,” if not properly enforced. Devine noted, however, outstanding issues such as the recent court decision to limit hundreds of thousands of federal employees’ appeal rights against firings or demotions, restoring whistleblower protections for contractors and those in the intelligence community, the trend of federal agencies harassing whistleblowers by launching criminal investigations against them and the establishment of whistleblower ombudsmen at each agency’s inspector general’s office as areas that require new congressional action.
On the heels of a jury awarding $700,000 to a whistleblowing former head of a Georgia ethics commission – who was allegedly fired for trying to investigate wrongdoing involving Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign finances – there appears to be yet another whistleblower who will file charges against the commission. That would make a total of four cases “filed against the embattled agency.”
Related Article: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act being passed into law. The Make It Safe Coalition – of which GAP sits on the steering committee – released a statement about the importance and history of the law, detailing the remaining lapses in protection that still must be addressed.
Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.