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As the nation's leading whistleblower advocacy organization, GAP is committed to working with members of Congress, other relevant government agencies, and the Make It Safe Coalition to enact stronger whistleblower protections. Many existing federal employee whistleblower protections are subpar and must be improved. GAP has a long and storied history of helping to pass major pieces of whistleblower legislation since our inception in 1977.
All Circuit Review Extension Act (H.R. 4197)
This act would extend, for an additional three years, the landmark "all circuit review" pilot program instituted by the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA), unanimously approved by the 112th Congress. All circuit review was the WPEA's most significant structural reform, but the provision only approved the pilot program for two years. Since Congress also required the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess the law's effectiveness after four years, it is crucial that the pilot last long enough to inform the GAO's work and provide Congress an accurate assessment of its value. Congress will only then have the data to decide whether the program should be extended permanently. House Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md) introduced the legislation, joined by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Ca) and Representatives Blake Farenthold (R-Tx), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) and Gerald Connolly (D-Va). The measure was unanimously approved by voice vote in the committee.
“Sensitive Jobs” Fix (S. 1809, H.R. 3278)
The devastating court decision in Kaplan v. Conyers – which stripped federal employees working in broadly-defined national security “sensitive positions” of their rights to appeal an adverse personnel action – has set the stage to also strip due process rights for actions that are discriminatory or in retaliation for whistleblowing. The deeply flawed decision in Kaplan v. Conyers, Northover and MSPB (Conyers) arms agencies with sweeping power not granted by the President or Congress and creates an accountability vacuum.
With the leadership of GAP coalition partners American Federation of Government Employees and National Treasury Employees Union, bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Jon Tester (D-Mt), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Claire McCakill (D-Mo), and in the House by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-Dc), to reverse this activist court decision. This bill would help prevent agencies from hiding wrongdoing and firing workers with national security labels by restoring long-standing review of these decisions.
Restoration of the Anti-Gag Statute
GAP is working on restoration of the “anti-gag” statute in the FY 2015 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill. It served as an effective resource for accountability from FY 1988 through FY 2013, when it was removed in the most recent appropriations law. The WPEA codified the anti-gag protections for government employees outside of the intelligence community, but unfortunately it was not a complete substitute. Through leadership by Senators Grassley and Charles Levin (D-Mi), this provision was enacted initially to prevent liability from an open-ended pseudo classification that would have canceled disclosures of “classifiable” information. The anti-gag rider bans federal spending to implement or enforce nondisclosure agreements that do not conform to its requirements. Senator Grassley is spearheading restoration of the statute, and we are working with both chambers and a bipartisan coalition partnership to ensure its passage.