The Continued Push for Whistleblower Reform

August 21, 2012

AALL recently signed on to this open letter to members of Congress to urge completion of the landmark, decades-long legislative effort to restore credible whistleblower rights for federal employees. While the Senate passed its Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), S. 743, in May 2012, the House has not yet considered its bill, H.R. 3289. Signed by 141 diverse groups ranging from the Sierra Club to the National Organization for Women and including the Southeastern Chapter of AALL (SEAALL) and Susan Nevelow Mart, director of the William A. Wise Law Library at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the letter calls for swift action to “send a final bill to the President’s desk that includes the best of both H.R. 3289 and S. 743—not a watered-down version.”

AALL has long supported the need for improved protections for federal whistleblowers. Whistleblowers protect taxpayer dollars and help to ensure government accountability by speaking out against waste, fraud, and abuse. Government employees who blow the whistle also act as an alert system for problems and issues within the government that can impair the public’s right to know.  In fact, it was an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) whistleblower that first alerted AALL to the proposed closure of the EPA libraries in 2006.

Since Congress last revised the Whistleblower Protection Act in 1994, a series of court decisions and a flawed administrative process have eroded the law so that it no longer adequately protects government whistleblowers. The current law must be enhanced to provide better protections for federal employees who wish to legally report problems at their agencies.  By passing a strong bipartisan whistleblower reform law, Congress would ensure more efficient, transparent, and accountable government and save taxpayer money.

For more information on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, see AALL’s advocacy one-pager, written in January 2012 by Emily M. Janoski-Haehlen of the 2012-2013 Government Relations Committee.  Be sure to also check out AALL’s Formal Statements for the latest on our legislative positions and coalition work, including that on the WPEA.

Senate Hearing on Whistleblower Protections

June 11, 2009

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia is holding a hearing right now on whistleblower protections. The hearing began at 2:30pm EDT. The subcommittee is holding this hearing to consider legislation in the Senate to provide whistleblowers with stronger protections, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009 (S. 372). The hearing will also address differences between S. 372 and the House version of the bill (H.R. 1507).

As we explain in a new AALL Issue Brief on whistleblower protections, the Senate bill lacks several important provisions in the House bill, including the right to a jury trial in federal court and coverage of national security employees. On May 15, AALL joined 292 organizations on a letter to President Obama and Members of Congress in support of the House bill.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Senate Addresses Whistleblower Protections

February 27, 2008

The Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today on the False Claims Act, a law that allows whistleblowers to file lawsuits on behalf of the federal government when the government is the victim of fraud. Under the False Claims Act, plaintiffs generally receive 15-25 percent of the financial award. The Act has returned $20 billion dollars of taxpayer money to the treasury. The hearing today will focus on legislation (S. 2041) introduced by Senator Grassley (R-IA) last September to strengthen the Act against recent federal court decisions that have weakened the law. The hearing is happening now, and a webcast is available on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s website.

Yesterday, AALL and 45 good government and consumer groups sent a letter to Senators in support of whistleblower protections in legislation to strengthen the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The legislation (S. 2663), sponsored by Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), includes “best practices” whistleblower protections for employees of the CPSC, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of consumer products such as toys, power tools, and household chemicals. The massive toy recall last year makes clear that employees of the CPSC need protections so that they can speak out about unsafe practices. AALL supports whistleblower protections as a means of ensuring government accountability and advancing a more open government.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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