Senators Introduce Bill to Update Whistleblower Protection Act
Earlier this week, a group of bipartisan Senators introduced the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2011. The bill aims to update the Whistleblower Protection Act, which provides protection from retaliation for federal employees who expose waste, fraud, and abuse in federal agencies.
The bill is being spearheaded by Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Senator Susan M. Collins (R-Maine). Among the sponsors of the legislation is Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who co-authored the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act.
If successful, the legislation would:
•clarify that “any” disclosure of gross waste or mismanagement, fraud, abuse, or illegal activity may be protected, but not disagreements over legitimate policy decisions;
•suspend the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sole jurisdiction over federal employee whistleblower cases for five (5) years;
•extend Whistleblower Protection Act coverage and other non-discrimination and anti-retaliatory laws to all employees of the Transportation Security Administration;
•clarify that whistleblowers may disclose evidence of censorship of scientific or technical information under the same standards that apply to disclosures of other kinds of waste, fraud, and abuse;
•codify and strengthen the anti-gag provision that has been part of every Transportation-Treasury Appropriations bill since 1988;
•allow jury trials under certain circumstances for a period of five years;
•provide the Merit Systems Protection Board with authority to consider and grant summary judgment motions in certain cases for a period of 5 years;
•clarify that employees protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act may make protected classified disclosures to Congress using the same process as intelligence community employees;
•establish protections for the intelligence community modeled on existing whistleblower protections for FBI employees;
•establish a process within the executive branch for review if a security clearance is allegedly denied or revoked because of a protected whistleblower disclosure;
•establish Whistleblower Protection Ombudsmen to educate agency personnel about whistleblower rights; and
•provide the Office of Special Counsel with the independent right to file “friend of the court” briefs, or amicus briefs, with federal court
According to Senator Akaka, the bill “strengthens the Whistleblower Protection Act and restores congressional intent that whistleblowers be protected from retaliation. This protection is crucial to efforts to improve government management, cut the deficit, protect public health and safety, and to secure the nation.”
Senator Collins added, “this [bill] should give federal workers the peace of mind that if they speak out, they will be protected.”
This entry was posted on Friday, April 8th, 2011 at 12:01 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.