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.