Renowned Oversight Expert Criticizes Interference with Russia InvestigationIn an op-ed for The Hill, former National Whistleblower Center (NWC) executive director and widely regarded oversight expert Kris Kolesnik takes members of Congress to task for blurring the lines between campaigning and governing.

Kolesnik, also a former high-level staffer for Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), states, “people who come to Congress need to understand that, once you get here, you’re obliged to govern. The campaigning is over.” Given Kolesnik’s record, when he speaks on important oversight issues, all should listen.

Continue Reading Renowned Oversight Expert Criticizes Interference with Russia Investigation

The National Whistleblower Center, as a member of the Workplace Sexual Harassment Coalition, has signed a letter to the House of Representatives with a set of recommendations for the bipartisan bill, the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act. In the midst of the #MeToo movement, the bill aims to improve the workplace environment for Congressional staff.

Continue Reading The National Whistleblower Center Supports #MeToo Legislation

On July 27th, 2017, Senator Grassley gave a stirring speech on the heroism of whistleblowers as a Keynote Speaker at the NWC’s National Whistleblower Day celebration on Capitol Hill. The Senator thanked whistleblowers for their service to the American people, emphasizing, “… Whistleblowers are patriots and heroes … We owe a great debt to you—the whistleblowers. We have a responsibility to follow your example and keep fighting for responsible business and accountable government.” Watch the video of his speech.

Continue Reading Senator Grassley: “Whistleblowers are Heroes and Patriots”

Washington, D.C. December 1, 2016.   The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittees on Government Operations and Health Care, Benefits and Administrative Rules will hold a hearing today on proposed changes to the appropriations process that would have a major impact on existing whistleblower laws.

The hearing, “Restoring the Power of the Purse: Legislative Options,” will review H.R. 5499—The Agency Accountability Act—a bill that would restrict or prohibit executive agencies from using monies obtained as sanctions to directly pay whistleblowers the compensation they are owed under existing whistleblower reward laws.  The Act would impact all federal spending financed by fees, fines, and penalties currently administered by federal agencies, and instead require that Congressional appropriations approve this spending.

Continue Reading House Committee to Hold Hearing on Appropriations Reforms that Could Severely Impact Current Whistleblower Programs

The Washington Examiner reports that Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., will investigate whether  a letter to the House Financial Services subcommittee constituted interference with congressional oversight or an attempt to intimidate future witnesses appearing before the panel. The letter that sparked the investigation came from John Dowd, a criminal defense lawyer representing Liza Strong, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s employment services chief and requested that a whistleblower’s testimony be stricken from the record.

Ali Naraghi, the CFPB whistleblower in question, delivered his opening statement despite Dowd’s objection. The whistleblower currently is an examiner in CFPB’s southeast region.

Read the Washington Examiner’s full article here:

House panel to probe CFPB executive’s attempt to strike whistleblower’s testimony from official record

Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden issued the following press statement today in regard to the National Intelligence Agency’s plans to implement continuous monitoring of security clearance holders and it’s impact on whistleblowers who communicate with members of Congress:

Grassley, Wyden Press for Answers on Continuous Monitoring of
Whistleblower and Legislative Branch Communications

            WASHINGTON – Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden are pressing the Director of National Intelligence to explain in detail how the intelligence community plans to implement continuous monitoring of security clearance holders without undermining legal protections for whistleblowers or constitutional protections for the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branch.

In a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Grassley and Wyden noted that any monitoring within the executive branch must preserve the rights and confidentiality of whistleblowers when making protected disclosures to Congress or Inspectors General.

The senators wrote, “If whistleblower communications with Inspectors General or with Congress are routinely monitored and conveyed to agency leadership, it would defeat the ability to make protected disclosures confidentially, which is especially important in an intelligence community context.  Truly meaningful whistleblower protections need to include the option of a legitimate channel for confidential disclosures.  Inspectors General and Congress provide such an option.  However, if potential whistleblowers believe that disclosing waste, fraud or abuse means putting a target on their backs for retaliation, they will be intimidated into silence.  The failure to provide such protected alternatives could result in whistleblowers choosing to make unprotected disclosures in public forums, with potential negative consequences for national security.” Continue Reading Senators Demand Answers on Surveillance of Whistleblower Communications with Congress

Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. John F. Tierney, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, sent a letter to the CEO of KBR, one of the nation’s largest government contractors, requesting documents relating to the company’s treatment of potential whistleblowers seeking to report wrongdoing at the company.

The Congressional inquiry was triggered by a February Washington Post story revealing that KBR required employees to sign confidentiality agreements. These agreements barred employees who witnessed fraud from speaking to “ANYONE” outside of the company about their allegations without “specific authorization” from the company’s general counsel.

In the letter sent to KBR the Congressmen wrote: “The use of these confidentiality agreements could raise significant concerns if employees of federal contractors are being prohibited from disclosing allegations of waste, fraud, or abuse to government agencies, Congress, or Inspectors General. Obviously, requiring employees to clear such reports through KBR’s general counsel’s office before reporting them to the government would defeat the purpose of good government laws and whistleblower protections enacted by Congress.”

The Congressmen have requested KBR provide copies of all complaints submitted to KBR from its employees, subcontractors, or any other individuals from 2002 to present; copies of all confidentiality agreements restricting employees in any way from reporting allegations of waste, fraud, or abuse; and all policies and procedures relating to the use, application, enforcement, or waiver of confidentiality agreements in relation to internal complaints, tips, and investigations.

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center stated “The KBR non disclosure agreements have unquestionably interfered with the ability of Congress to conduct its Constitutional oversight responsibilities. KBR received over $40 billion in taxpayer money. It is incumbent upon Congress, in a bipartisan manner, to insure every penny paid by the honest taxpayers was properly spent and to insure contractors cannot take government money with one hand and silence whistleblowers with the other.”

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July 28, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

On May 8, 2007, your presidential campaign promised America’s whistleblowers in writing that you stood behind their need for legal protection and fully supported federal court access and jury trials for all federal employees. The House of Representatives enacted these protections when it overwhelmingly passed H.R. 985 in a veto-proof, bipartisan manner. In another bipartisan effort, Representatives Van Hollen (D-MD), Waxman (D-CA), Towns (D-NY), Braley (D-IA), and Platts (R-PA) have reintroduced this bill as H.R.1507.

Now we need your help. While the House version of the bill is more inclusive, the Senate version (S.372) lacks many key protections. The Senate bill currently lacks coverage for the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who participate in the global war on terror and oversee a budget well over $150 billion. Please stand by your promise and ensure that all federal employees receive comprehensive whistleblower protections.

Continue Reading LEADING NATIONAL SECURITY WHISTLEBLOWERS URGE OBAMA ACTION TO ENSURE PROTECTIONS