Two pieces of note for whistleblowers and their supporters from Government Executive.
One reported on a survey that posed this question, which was answered by nearly 700 federal workers.
Nearly half of 14,000 federal employees surveyed said they had witnessed or experienced a prohibited personnel practice while on the job in 2016, including rules protecting whistleblowers.
The percentage of employees aware of violations jumped to 46 percent in 2016 from 34 percent in 2010, according to a new report from the Merit Systems Protection Board.
The report notes that perceptions of reprisal for whistleblowing nearly doubled between 2010 and 2016, from 8.1 percent to 14.3.
The report notes: “Employees need to believe that they can safely disclose wrongdoing, and this is less likely to occur if they believe they have seen others experience retaliation for it, or if they feel that disclosures they made in the past led to retaliation by agency officials.”
Rep. Maxine Waters issued an open letter to potential whistleblowers at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) late last week.The California Democrat’s letter was addressed to agency employees who witness waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement. It asks that they “please do not hesitate to alert me and my staff” if they witness any such bureaucratic misconduct. Her action was in response to reports of low morale at the agency.
In a Monday Washington Post column about Waters’ letter, Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, agreed — with a caveat: “Whistleblowers are protected by federal law . . . Given the problems with federal whistleblower protection, we recommend that any whistleblower approaching Congress ensure that they can maintain anonymity.” He’s also noted that the system does not offer federal employees rewards, and access to federal court jury trials is limited. In addition, the WPA does not apply to intelligence and national security agencies. …
President Trump signed the All Circuit Review Act into law this past Monday, making permanent a pilot program established by the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012. This provision allows whistleblowers to appeal decisions of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) regarding retaliation complaints to any U.S. Court of Appeals.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The bipartisan Whistleblower Protection Caucus hosted a “Whistleblower 101” educational workshop on Thursday morning. The event, held in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, featured a panel of experts from Project on Government Oversight (POGO), the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC), National Security Agency (NSA), and Department of Justice (DOJ). Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) Stephen M. Kohn was the moderator of the panel.
Longtime advocate of whistleblower protections Sen. Chuck Grassley delivered a strongly-worded floor statement to the United States Senate on Thursday, saying that FBI whistleblowers, and all federal law enforcement agents, are protected when reporting misconduct to Congress, and they should not fear retaliation. The Senator from Iowa and Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee cleared up any misconception of agents not being able to approach Congress without a subpoena.…
Over the weekend the Daily Beast reported on a leaked draft investigative report that exposed the systemic failures in the flawed intelligence community whistleblower program. According to this report, late last year the Trump Administration put a lid on the finalization of an investigation of the whistleblower program failures by the Inspector General for all intelligence agencies. …
In a memo dated January 29, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed Department of Justice (DOJ) heads to not communicate with “senators, representatives, congressional committees, or congressional staff” without first consulting with the DOJ Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA).
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a long-time advocate for whistleblower rights, has expressed his concern regarding the legality of the Attorney Sessions’ memo. In his response letter, Grassley writes that the memo “does not appear to comply with existing law.” In particular, it infringes on the rights of DOJ employees to “make protected disclosures directly to Congress.”
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.