The U.S. Department of Labor, for the first time, has proposed making its whistleblower protection program a separate line item. The Department released its proposed budget yesterday. It includes $21 million in a separate line for the whistleblower program. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis answered questions in a live chat yesterday. The Houston Examiner participated and has released a portion of the transcript. In that transcript, Secretary Solis says that the budget proposal is an increase of $6 million — a 40% increase. She explains that this increase is to hire 45 more investigators to address the increased workload. This workload comes in part from the new laws that contain whistleblower protections, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Food Safety Modernization Act and the healthcare law. Secretary Solis adds:
Separating it into a separate budget activity will also allow increased transparency for the work conducted by whistleblower investigators and the Office of Whistleblower Protection Programs. We recently completed an internal evaluation of the whistleblower program and are reviewing recommendations to improve oversight and management of the program.
It is remarkable that the whistleblower budget is increasing at a time when the overall budget is being cut. Hopefully, legislative leaders of both parties will agree that whistleblower protection is a good way to increase accountability and worthy of the increase.