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Protecting Whistleblowers since 1977

Legislation

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GAPs legislative program advocates enactment of stronger laws and policies protecting whistleblowers’ free speech rights, and monitors their implementation. GAP uses these laws and policies to litigate whistleblower cases, help expose wrongdoing to the public, and actively promote government and corporate accountability. Our successes are made possible by the support of our partners at the Make It Safe Campaign, a national whistleblower coalition that GAP spearheads.

Successes & Strategy

The history of whistleblower legislation is in many ways, the history of the nation's leading whistleblower advocacy organization. We have been a leader in drafting legislation or running campaigns for passage of more than thirty whistleblower laws or policies. Truth-tellers benefit from broad support across the ideological spectrum, as demonstrated by the bipartisan Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus. Examples of successful campaigns include –

  • Unanimous passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), a landmark good government law that overhauls the defunct Whistleblower Protection Act and provides federal workers with protections when they report corruption, wrongdoing, waste, fraud, abuse, or threats to the public. GAP partnered with NPR's On The Media and constituents to identify the senator who secretly blocked passage of the WPEA in prior years.
  • Best practice whistleblower protections for federal government contractors in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2013. This tremendous expansion of whistleblower rights helps to safeguard approximately $9 trillion worth of government contracts, grants and reimbursements annually, and protects some 12 million government contractor whistleblowers.
  • Whistleblower protections included as enforcement provisions in major reform bills since 2002, ranging from the Consumer Product Safety Act, to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act  (legal tactics and best practices can be found in The Corporate Whistleblower’s Survival Guide)
  • Nearly all national whistleblower laws in the United States, as well as Intergovernmental Organizations (IGO’s). When GAP was founded, the U.S. was the only country with a whistleblower law. Now 30 nations and six IGO’s have whistleblower laws or policies, with 60 more proposed globally.

Our duty when advocating whistleblower laws is the most important principle: first do no harm. As a result, we often oppose fraudulent whistleblower proposals with supportive titles that actually are traps. We check whether whistleblower proposals or laws are “metal shields” (creating a fighting chance to survive) or often gaudy “cardboard shields” (guaranteeing doom despite their appearance). To help choose, we have prepared research listing whistleblower laws globally that includes the 20 best practices for rights that are metal shields. 

Implementation

Similarly, one of our primary lessons learned is that passing even credible whistleblower laws on paper is only the first step in a long journey for freedom of speech. Without ongoing efforts, in practice laws that are solid on paper may disintegrate into traps that discredit their purpose and victimize those who take them seriously. Even good faith laws inevitably lead to cycles of trial and error, and it is essential to act on lessons learned. For example, in the U.S. our whistleblower law for federal government workers is in its fourth generation with passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 after a thirteen-year campaign.

The Way Ahead

Support GAPs current campaigns and learn how to get involved through our Take Action page.