National Whistleblower Day
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.


Continue Reading House and Senate Introduce Resolutions Declaring National Whistleblower Appreciation Day

By Maya Efrati

After nearly a year of research and review, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) has released a report outlining best practices for how Congressional staff should appropriately handle information from whistleblowers. Titled “Key Practices for Congress to Consider When Receiving and Referring Information,” the report focuses on what happens when federal whistleblowers reach out to their representatives in Congress, whether in the House or Senate, for help. The GAO produced the report on the request of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch.

One of the ways that Congress is able to fulfill its mandate for oversight of the federal government is through receiving and acting on whistleblower information. The GAO report notes that, “[w]hile data is not available on the number of whistleblower disclosures across Congress, a staff member at one congressional office said the office can receive hundreds of whistleblower disclosures every year.” Yet too often, those whistleblowers are retaliated against for bravely speaking up about waste, fraud, and abuse. Compounding the problem, the GAO report demonstrated some existing deficiencies in the process for whistleblowers to disclose their information.

Maya Efrati head shot
Maya Efrati

Crucially, the GAO noted the importance of maintaining the confidentiality of whistleblowers who come forward with information to Congress. Key practices highlighted in the report include that Congress should “Develop… [p]rotocols to keep disclosures secure and protected, while appropriately limiting access to information on a need-to-know basis.”

This includes not only handling of sensitive or classified information provided by the whistleblower, but also the whistleblower’s own personally identifiable information, which is any details that could allow someone to trace that person’s identity. Whistleblowers often risk their careers and more when speaking up about what they know; no whistleblower should be placed in an even more precarious situation because Congress lacks appropriate processes and guidelines to help them.


Continue Reading GAO report on key whistleblower practices for Congress released

They say that sunlight is the best disinfectant. When information about corruption or other wrongdoing comes to light, that transparency results in accountability, both against those who are culpable and for those affected by it. Whistleblowers are the ones with that crucial information.

Maya Efrati head shot
Maya Efrati, National Whistleblower Center

Whistleblowers are people who bravely come forward with information about fraud, corruption, and other criminal behavior. A whistleblower may be anyone from an employee at a company who comes across fraud to a government employee who sees the law being disregarded and rights trampled to a member of an impacted community whose family is affected by environmental catastrophe because of negligence in the race for profit.

Despite enormous personal and professional risks, they bring to light what would otherwise remain hidden. Often, those who blow the whistle on wrongdoing are disparaged and retaliated against for their actions. Even still, they report such crime knowing they may lose their jobs and income, only to face a negative social stigma while fighting an uphill battle. For the sake of truth and transparency, they are willing to come forward, to step up, and to disclose what they know.

But at present our society does not honor whistleblowers, and because of that we don’t encourage them to step forward.
Continue Reading We Need To Change the Way We Talk About Whistleblowers

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On January 30, 2019, Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced the Wildlife Conservation and Anti-Trafficking Act of 2019 (H.R. 864). This bipartisan, groundbreaking legislation enhances the ability of informants worldwide to detect and report wildlife crimes. It also strengthens the laws criminalizing trafficking.
Continue Reading Landmark Bill Combating Wildlife Trafficking Reintroduced in the House

SEC Whistleblower RewardsOn Wednesday, December 12, 2018, National Whistleblower Center (NWC) Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn made a formal presentation to representatives from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) opposing the proposed SEC rule  limiting awards in major fraud cases.  Kohn was joined by NWC Policy Counsel Maya Efrati and NWC Legal Fellow Sarah Khan. The packed room included SEC leadership from the Office of General Counsel, the SEC Whistleblower Office and the Office of the Chairman of the Commission. The meeting lasted for over one hour.
Continue Reading NWC Meets with SEC to Strongly Oppose “Caps” on SEC Whistleblower Rewards

International Anti-Corruption DayIn honor of International Anti-Corruption Day 2018 on December 9th, Maya Efrati, Policy Counsel for the National Whistleblower Center looks back at the past year to review the significant efforts made on behalf of whistleblowers around the world.

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The National Whistleblower Center (NWC), the nation’s top whistleblower advocacy group, has led the fight for whistleblower protections and rewards for over 30 years. This past year, the NWC frequently worked with anti-corruption activists and dedicated governments officials worldwide to help build effective anti-corruption programs as part of its outreach to international whistleblowers. The NWC understands that anti-corruption work can be most effective only when it is a unified global approach, as reflected in this year’s theme for International Anti-Corruption Day: “United Against Corruption”.
Continue Reading The National Whistleblower Center Leads Anti-Corruption Efforts Worldwide on Behalf of Whistleblowers

National Whistleblower Center urges denial of destruction of documents On October 24, 2018, the Department of Interior (DOI) sent a request to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) asking for permission to destroy documents from every agency within the Department of Interior. These agencies include the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others. The National Whistleblower Center (NWC) says this request should be denied.
Continue Reading National Whistleblower Center Urges Denial of Department of Interior Document Destruction Request

State-Police-Car-Law-EnforcementOn October 3, 2018, the National Whistleblower Center (“NWC”)  filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Brandon Eller, an Idaho State Police (“ISP”) detective who blew the whistle on the cover-up of another deputy’s dangerous actions. While Eller received a jury reward for his actions, he has been denied funds for the emotional damages that he suffered as a direct result of ISP’s retaliatory actions.
Continue Reading Amicus Brief Filed in Support of Idaho State Police Whistleblower

International-Map-of-SEC-Crimes-Reported-foreign-corrupt-practice-act
International tips are crucial to the SEC’s law enforcement capabilities. From 2011 to 2017, the SEC received a total of 2,655 whistleblowers from 113 countries. This map shows the countries as well as the frequency of those tips.

Washington, D.C. August 30, 2018. Today, the National Whistleblower Center (“NWC”) released a report analyzing data from Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (“FCPA”) cases since the law was passed in 1977, including several cases decided in 2018.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is one of the most important whistleblower laws, especially for foreign nationals and for combatting corruption and bribery occurring on foreign soil. The FCPA prohibits companies issuing stock in the U.S. – and their subsidiaries – from bribing foreign officials to win contracts and other business.
Continue Reading The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is an Effective Tool to Stop Illegal Activity and Catch Illicit Profits

$45 million. That’s how much the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)’s whistleblower program has given in awards to everyday individuals who came forward with crucial information, helping just this one branch of the U.S. government stop criminals from profiting from their illicit activity. As whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 10 to 30 percent of the monetary sanctions collected by the government, this means that the government collected at least $150 million from cases in which whistleblower tips were vital for a successful prosecution.


Continue Reading U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Announces $45 Million in Whistleblower Awards