A review of 100 recent Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) prosecutions available on Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) sheds light on the bipartisan support for the whistleblower provisions in APPS. From President Clinton, to Bush, to Obama, and now to Trump, law enforcement has continued to utilize whistleblowers as a crucial components of APPS enforcement. The data shows that rewards were given to whistleblowers during both Republican and Democratic administrations.

NWC has put together this report detailing the full analysis as an update to a previous blog post.

The National Whistleblower Center compiled data on 100 recent APPS cases, of which 76 were credited to whistleblowers, and used the date the whistleblower rewards were granted to determine partisanship. When there was a Republican president, 30 awards were granted (39% of total), while 46 awards were granted under Democratic presidents (61% of total). It’s important to note, the data includes 16 years of Democratic presidents and only 9 years of Republican presidents. While this factor is somewhat mitigated by ongoing increase in APPS prosecutions and rewards – with a Democratic president during the earliest years of minimal activity – this remains a consideration when assessing the partisanship of whistleblower rewards under APPS.

From President Clinton, to Bush, to Obama, to the current Trump administration, each president’s administration has granted rewards for whistleblowers who assisted law enforcement in detecting and catching ocean polluters.

In regard to total reward values, years with Democratic presidents resulted in $14,404,166 given to whistleblowers, while $19,351,500 were granted to whistleblowers under Republican presidents. As a result, whistleblowers were rewarded over $33 million (in fact, exactly $33,755,666) through successful APPS prosecutions occurring between 1993 and 2017.

The average reward granted to whistleblowers as a result of successful APPS prosecutions was 28.8% of the total amount of funds collected by the government. This amount was consistent between cases occurred under Democratic and Republican presidents: under Democratic presidents, whistleblowers were granted rewards which averaged 29.3% of the total funds, while under Republican presidents whistleblowers were granted rewards which averaged 28.1% of the total funds collected by the government. 

Partisanship does not appear to halt the use of whistleblower rewards in the enforcement of APPS and appears to have no significant correlation to variations in reward values. The continued upward trend of APPS cases prosecuted and so whistleblower receiving rewards suggests that in the years to come, the data will demonstrate the importance of whistleblower tips in stopping ocean pollution, regardless of the political party in power.

NWC believes that the use of whistleblower rewards as a bipartisan law enforcement and community engagement tool will become more apparent over time, as awareness grows and the amount of data available grows larger.