Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act: Senate passed S. 743, to amend chapter 23 of title 5, United States Code, to clarify the disclosures of information protected from prohibited personnel practices, require a statement in nondisclosure policies, forms, and agreements that such policies, forms, and agreements conform with certain disclosure protections, provide certain authority for the Special Counsel, after agreeing to the committee amendments.
In light of the recent starling report from the Senate on the lack of enforcement protections by the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) and gutted Office of Special Counsel (OSC) under previous administrations. The passage of the bill signals a vital step in model employment law by the largest employer in the U.S., the federal government. That same employer provides oversight of industry with enforcement regulation power. Yet, for decades the regulator did not protect their own employees from whistleblower retaliation. A review of this report by the Senate on the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) is enlightening. Senate Report 7bjbm7p
If anything, a whistleblower within the federal government has been subjected to brutal tactics of retaliation including efforts to prevent the employee from ever working again once separated from federal service. The employees are the federal service whose loyalty is to the public with duties to protect tax payer money with legally mandated requirements to report fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement and specific dangers to public health and safety.
We applaud the efforts Carolyn Lerner, Special Counsel, (OSC) who has been instrumental in raising awareness to ensure the letter of the law will be followed by all federal agencies. Among the many improvements to the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), the WPEA will include lowering the burden of proof in disciplinary action cases and authority to file amicus briefs in court by the OSC.
We also applaud the hard work of fellow advocacy groups, numerous federal whistleblowers and MSPBWatch.net who continue to take part in educating the public on the systemic problems within the federal government and helping this historic event occur.
We reprint the below from GAP to the Make It Safe Campaign & Coalition members. 6spnph8
Bill to Expand Protections for Whistleblowers and Taxpayers Passes the Senate by Unanimous Consent
WASHINGTON, D.C.—In an unusual display of unanimity, yesterday the Senate passed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2011 (WPEA), S. 743, a landmark bill that would expand protections for federal employees who disclose wrongdoing and protect the public trust.
The bill has had a storied past over the past decade as various versions have been introduced, debated, and passed. In 2010, when it seemed enactment was finally certain, an unrelated controversy about Wikileaks muddled the debate and killed the bill. Two senators placed “secret holds” on the bill in the last hours of the 111th Congress and left town for the holidays. In fact, the WPEA has little to do with Wikileaks—except in that it will create lawful safe channels for disclosures and reduce unauthorized leaks. The Senate has affirmed that this anti-leaks, anti-corruption bill is a timely reform.
The WPEA will modernize the government whistleblower law by ensuring legitimate disclosures of wrongdoing will be protected, increasing government accountability to taxpayers, and saving billions of taxpayer dollars by helping expose fraud, waste and abuse. The WPEA will also restore and expand free speech rights, specifically covering national security and intelligence community workers, federal scientists, and Transportation Security Administration officers. The bill also will strengthen failed procedures; close loopholes; create efficiencies; and affirm lawful disclosures. For the first time, some federal whistleblowers would have a real “day in court,” since the bill provides access to a jury trial in federal district court.
The longtime champion for this reform and for whistleblowers, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), was joined by 14 co-sponsors, including, Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.). Our groups thank these senators for their leadership and their staff for their tireless efforts in advancing this critical reform legislation.
But now the bill must become law. A companion bill in the House, the Platts-Van Hollen Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (H.R. 3289), introduced by Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and co-sponsored by Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Todd Platts (R-Pa.), Steve Pearce (R-New Mex.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), has stalled since the Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed it in November.
Rep. Issa has promised to move the bill, stating, “We will get it through in this Congress.” We urge him and the House leadership to move swiftly now to pass the WPEA to prove their commitment to tackling waste and increasing accountability to the American taxpayer.