GAP today praises Tuesday’s White House release of the U.S. National Action Plan that emphasizes intensified support for protection of federal employee whistleblowers. The plan is part of a new global transparency initiative by the Obama administration.
GAP Legal Director Tom Devine commented, “We welcome President Obama’s much-needed, renewed support for government whistleblower rights. The last election was supposed to be a voter protest against government fraud, waste and abuse. But the newly-elected House majority has not even introduced a bill to provide rights for whistleblowers who risk their careers for those goals.”
The White House commitment was as follows (italicized):
Strengthen and Expand Whistleblower Protection for Government Personnel
Employees with the courage to report wrongdoing are a government’s best defense against waste, fraud and abuse. Federal law clearly prohibits retaliation against most government employees who blow the whistle, but some employees have diminished protections, and judicially-created loopholes have left others without an adequate remedy. To address these problems, we will:
- Advocate for Legislation to Reform and Expand Whistleblower Protections. Recently, Congress nearly enacted legislation that would eliminate loopholes in existing protections, provide protections for employees in the intelligence community, and create pilot programs to explore potential structural reforms in the remedial process. The Administration will continue to work with Congress to enact this legislation.
- Explore utilization of Executive Branch Authority to Implement Reforms if Congress is Unwilling to Act. Statutory reform is preferable, but if Congress remains deadlocked, the Administration will explore options for utilizing executive branch authority to strengthen and expand whistleblower protections.”
For the first time by any Administration, the White House worked during the last Congress in active partnership with a bipartisan coalition of good government organizations toward passing the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA). Despite unanimous Senate and House initial passage, when the bill was sent back to the Senate for final approval, it was killed by a secret hold from senior Republican leadership offices at the request of incoming House leadership.
GAP especially welcomed the President’s commitment to work on Executive action for whistleblowers if Congress does not act. Devine commented, “The White House has drawn a ‘use it or lose it’ line for members of Congress if they expect to control and get credit for new whistleblower rights. We look forward to working with the Administration on this backup plan, if the politicians play games with those who play it straight defending the taxpayers.”
The White House released its plan during the fifth annual Washington Whistleblower Assembly, held on September 19 and 20.
Dylan Blaylock is Communications Director for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.