National Whistleblower Day

A round up of whistleblower news.

Whistleblower rewarded for exposing security flaws. From The New York Times

The government said the video surveillance software it bought from Cisco was “of no value” because it did not “meet its primary purpose: enhancing the security of the agencies that purchase it.” In many cases, the Cisco software actually reduced the protection provided by other security systems, the complaint said…

Lawyers for whistle blower James Glenn told the Times he was was working as a Cisco subcontractor, but was laid five months after he reported problems. When Glenn realized a year later that he could still hack into the surveillance system, he  contacted the F.B.I. Cisco has agreed to pay $8.6 million. More here from Reuters, which reports that Glenn will receive about $1 million.

Government Accountability Office on how the feds can do better

A recent GAO blog post talks about specific whistleblower issues and cases they’ve looked into.

After NASA’s Inspector General investigates potential reprisal, the NASA Administrator is responsible for determining within 30 days whether it actually happened. Whistleblowers count on a speedy resolution to their complaints.However, we found that NASA hadn’t been meeting the 30-day time frame since 2008. We recommended that NASA take steps to fix it….
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Joe Davidson, who writes about the federal government for The Washington Post, points out that there are a lot of so-called appreciation days.

There’s Houseplant Appreciation Day in January, Truck Driver Appreciation Week in September and National Nurses Week in May, not to be confused with Emergency Nurses Week in October or Perioperative Nurses Week in November.

He said he ignores all of them but one — National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. To mark the day, the National Whistleblower Center held its annual event Tuesday. The Capitol Hill celebration featured remarks from whistleblowers and the lawmakers, advocates and family members who support them. The gathering took place during an annual series of panels, workshops and films known as the Whistleblower Summit. Find a video of the event below.

Davidson of the Post notes that:

National Whistleblower Appreciation Day reminds us just how little appreciation the government too often demonstrates for many who suffer retaliation by agency supervisors.

Several speakers told their own stories of doing the right thing and getting punished for it. They were recognized for their courage and promised more protection.

“I was one sister they could not stop,” said Sheila White, whose seven-year battle with railroad shipping company Burlington Northern & Santa Fe (BNSF) was fought all the way to the Supreme Court. White offered both inspiration and practical advice: “Documentation is your best friend.”
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This year’s National Whistleblower Day event will be Tuesday, July 30. It will be broadcast live from Capitol Hill via Facebook. 

If you are going to blow the whistle, do it right, says Stephen M. Kohn, chair of National Whistleblower Center. He delivered that message Monday morning during an a live interview on The Hill’s morning news show.

“There are fantastic whistleblower laws,” he said. “But there are other ways people blow the whistle and they end up in prison. So, do it right.”

Kohn uses former banker Bradley Birkenfeld as as example of someone who did it wrong, then did it right. When he first helped expose a massive Swiss banking tax evasion scheme, he went to jail. Then Kohn took him to the IRS whistleblower office, where Birkenfeld was awarded a record $104 million.


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Maya Efrati head shot
Maya Efrati

By Maya Efrati

In a show of bicameral bipartisanship, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have introduced bills to declare July 30th, 2019 as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. The Senate has passed similar resolutions each year since 2013; the House introduced a resolution in 2018. Whistleblower advocates hope to see both the Senate and the House pass these resolutions in 2019, forming a clear call from Congress for celebrating whistleblowers.

The resolution traces the importance of whistleblowers back to before the passage of the Bill of Rights, when “10 sailors and marines blew the whistle on fraud and misconduct that was harmful to the United States.” In fact, it was the Continental Congress that passed America’s first whistleblower law during the height of the American Revolution on July 30th, 1778. In the centuries since, whistleblowers have proven to be a crucial component to fighting crime, fraud, corruption, and other criminal behaviors. Our system of accountability relies on brave individuals stepping forward with the truth. And whistleblowers have brought in billions of dollars to U.S. government coffers as well.


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This past Tuesday, Aaron Westrick, a whistleblower of defective bullet-proof vests, was awarded a Frank Wills & Martha Mitchell Pillar Award at the Whistleblower Summit for Civil and Human Rights.

Pillar Awards are given by the Whistleblower Summit for Civil and Human Rights to recognize individuals and organizations that serve the community by supporting first, fourth, and fifth amendment protections. Specifically, the Pillar Award honors whistleblowers that are victims of retaliation or other forms of adversity as a result of exposing the truth. The Award not only recognizes the courage and strength of the whistleblower, but also the immense and positive impact that their disclosures bring to their community. Past recipients of the Pillar Award have included Diane Williams and Senators Corey Booker, Rand Paul, and Ron Johnson.


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Chuck-Grassley -Keynote-speaker-national-whistleblower-dayYesterday, the country celebrated National Whistleblower Day. The day celebrates whistleblowers’ contributions to democracy, and commemorates the Founding Fathers’ unanimous passage of the first U.S. whistleblower law on July 30, 1778.

The National Whistleblower Center hosted its annual National Whistleblower Day celebration on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Senate also unanimously passed a resolution recognizing July 30th, 2018 as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.”

In recounting the history of America’s whistleblower law, Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, stated: “we must ensure that this incredible act of democracy is remembered.”


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Linda Tripp, a former U.S. civil servant who blew the whistle on a sitting President, will speak this year on July 30th at the National Whistleblower Day celebration on Capitol Hill. This is the first public address Tripp will be making since 2000.

National Whistleblower Day commemorates the passage of the first U.S. whistleblower law, and celebrates the contributions of whistleblowers to creating a more open and just society. The U.S. Founding Fathers understood the importance of safeguarding whistleblower rights. Now, 240 years later, we understand just how critical this can be for even the highest public office in the land – the President.


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Skyview-of-Washington-dcThe U.S. Senate has unanimously passed a resolution declaring July 30, 2018 as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. National Whistleblower Appreciation Day commemorates the passage of America’s first whistleblower law and celebrates the contributions of whistleblowers to democracy.

The resolution was introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and cosponsored by all members of the bipartisan Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus, including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE), Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WY), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE).


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