House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

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.

CFPB logoIn 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 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.  Continue Reading When Congress calls for whistleblowers, federal employees need to know their rights before answering

Today’s Politico article entitled “Critics question whistleblower bill” highlights the broken promises of the White House and Senate on national security whistleblower protection. The NWC has repeatedly pointed out the serious flaws in the national security provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S.372). Politico points out that Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) continues to stand behind these dangerous provisions and does not take issue with the fact that this new Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Board would not have the power to award a whistleblower his or her job back. The Senate Homeland Security Committee promised changes would be made to the bill’s flaws, but changes have not come. The House version of the bill (H.R. 1507), however, allows whistleblowers access to federal courts and is fully supported by the NWC. Senate Intelligence, Judiciary, and Homeland Security Committee are set to meet this week, but are "unlikely" to address correcting the repeal of existing FBI whistleblower protections. Prominent FBI whistleblowers recently issued letters stressing the importance of national security whistleblower protection and urged the bill to not be passed in its current form. Support their cause and TAKE ACTION! to stop the passage of this bill.

*Philip Barrett (a NWC intern) contributed to this posting

Bookmark and Share

On July 29, 2009 the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously reported out of committee S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009.  Unfortunately, this bill contains many significant differences from the House Bill (H.R. 1507), which the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) fully supports.  

This post is the twelfth in a series of twelve, examining specific weaknesses in the Senate Bill. Each installment examines a crucial issue of whistleblower rights compromised by the Senate’s version of the bill.

XII: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WHITE HOUSE?

I had the “honor” of being involved in the initial discussion process with the White House and reviewing the proposals circulated by the White House.  I could spend the rest of this blog venting my frustration over what did and did not happen as a result of that process, but I won’t.

The bottom line is that President Obama did promise, on numerous occasions, to support whistleblowers.  He did specifically endorse the framework for protection set forth in the House bill.
 

Continue Reading What’s Wrong With The Senate Whistleblower Bill? – Part 12

Bookmark and Share

On July 29, 2009 the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously reported out of committee S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009.  Unfortunately, this bill contains many significant differences from the House Bill (H.R. 1507), which the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) fully supports.  

This post is the eleventh in a series of twelve, examining specific weaknesses in the Senate Bill. Each installment examines a crucial issue of whistleblower rights compromised by the Senate’s version of the bill.

XI: IS FILING A NATIONAL SECURITY WHISTLEBLOWER CASE UNDER S. 372 MALPRACTICE PER SE?

In the posts 9 and 10, we set forth some of the deficiencies in the national security whistleblower section of S. 372.  We explained how it is basically impossible for a whistleblower to win under the current Senate language.

Simply wasting many years and thousands of dollars in a new bureaucracy that Franz Kafka would have marveled at is not enough unto itself to say that filing a claim under the Senate provisions would constitute legal malpractice.  However, Title II of S. 372 is not so benign.  It is a retaliators fantasy.  It creates a process, which permits the agency to completely discredit an employee and destroy their career in law enforcement and intelligence forever.

Continue Reading What’s Wrong With The Senate Whistleblower Bill? – Part 11

Bookmark and Share

 
On July 29, 2009 the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously reported out of committee S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009.  Unfortunately, this bill contains many significant differences from the House Bill (H.R. 1507), which the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) fully supports.  

This post is the tenth in a series of twelve, examining specific weaknesses in the Senate Bill. Each installment examines a crucial issue of whistleblower rights compromised by the Senate’s version of the bill.

X: IF IN DOUBT – THROW OUT THE CASE!

Buried at the very end of the national security whistleblower section of S. 372 is a grant of unprecedented power to the directors of the FBI, CIA, NSA and every other intelligence agency.  

These directors are authorized to have any whistleblower case summarily dismissed, with no administrative or judicial review. 

Continue Reading What’s Wrong With The Senate Whistleblower Bill? – Part 10

Bookmark and Share

On July 29, 2009 the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously reported out of committee S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009.  Unfortunately, this bill contains many significant differences from the House Bill (H.R. 1507), which the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) fully supports.  

This post is the ninth in a series of twelve, examining specific weaknesses in the Senate Bill. Each installment examines a crucial issue of whistleblower rights compromised by the Senate’s version of the bill.

IX: DUE PROCESS FOR NATIONAL SECURITY WHISTLEBLOWERS?

The national security whistleblower protection sections of S. 372 are a bad joke.  They completely undermine any semblance of whistleblower rights, and ensure that no national security worker will ever prevail in a disputed whistleblower case.  The language set forth in Title II of S. 372 is disheartening, and should be struck from the law without delay.  

Why is it so bad?

First, there is no court access.  

Continue Reading What’s Wrong With The Senate Whistleblower Bill? – Part 9

Bookmark and Share

 
On July 29, 2009 the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously reported out of committee S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009.  Unfortunately, this bill contains many significant differences from the House Bill (H.R. 1507), which the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) fully supports.  

This post is the eighth in a series of twelve, examining specific weaknesses in the Senate Bill. Each installment examines a crucial issue of whistleblower rights compromised by the Senate’s version of the bill.

VIII: WHAT HAPPENS TO NATIONAL SECURITY WHISTLEBLOWERS?

National security whistleblowers are the biggest losers in S. 372.

The Senate Homeland Security approved a bill that, if enacted, would seriously undercut national security whistleblower rights and set terrible precedent.  It would in practice constitute an anti-whistleblower law.  It would do permanent harm to "the public’s right to know," and ensure that national security whistleblowers did not "blow the whistle."   This is not an exaggeration!

Continue Reading What’s Wrong With The Senate Whistleblower Bill? – Part 8

Bookmark and Share

The NWC’s series “What’s Wrong With The Senate Whistleblower Bill” examining specific weaknesses in the Senate Bill will continue on Monday.

If you would like more information on the Senate Bill please read NWC General Counsel David K. Colapinto’s legal analysis or visit the NWC’s Federal Employee Whistleblower Protection page.

You can also read the recent press on the Senate Bill:

Senate whistleblower bill doesn’t go far enough, critics sayOhMyGov!, 8-24-09

FBI whistleblower shields likely to stayWashington Times, 8-20-09

Obama-back bill worries FBI whistleblowersWashington Times, 8-18-09

WH sought to weaken law on whistleblowingWashington Times, 8-7-09

Secrets and the C.I.A.” Letter to the Editor, New York Times, 8-7-09

We urge every whistleblower support to Take Action by sending a letter to your members of Congress.

Bookmark and Share

On July 29, 2009 the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously reported out of committee S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009.  Unfortunately, this bill contains many significant differences from the House Bill (H.R. 1507), which the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) fully supports.  

This post is the seventh in a series of twelve, examining specific weaknesses in the Senate Bill. Each installment examines a crucial issue of whistleblower rights compromised by the Senate’s version of the bill.

VII: CAPS ON DAMAGES AND OTHER LITTLE GEMS

In addition to the problems already addressed in earlier postings, there are some smaller, yet still very important, problems that need to be addressed before the Senate votes on the final version of S. 372.

Caps:  For the first time a Congressional Committee has recommended that caps be placed on the amount of compensatory damages in a law designed to protect federal employee whistleblowers. See Section117 (a)(5)(C)(ii)(I) (Page 33).

These caps set a very bad precedent for whistleblower laws.  No current federal whistleblower law has a cap on compensatory damages.

Continue Reading What’s Wrong With The Senate Whistleblower Bill? – Part 7

Bookmark and Share

On July 29, 2009 the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs unanimously reported out of committee S. 372, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009.  Unfortunately, this bill contains many significant differences from the House Bill (H.R. 1507), which the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) fully supports.  

This post is the sixth in a series of twelve, examining specific weaknesses in the Senate Bill. Each installment examines a crucial issue of whistleblower rights compromised by the Senate’s version of the bill.

VI: WILL ANY FEDERAL EMPLOYEES EVER HAVE THEIR CASE HEARD IN FEDERAL COURT?

The short answer to this question is virtually, none.

When read together, the numerous “poison pill” provisions inserted into S. 372 all but guarantee that very few, if any, federal employee cases will ever be removed to district court for a real trial.
 

Continue Reading What’s Wrong With The Senate Whistleblower Bill? – Part 6