The new Congress gives whistleblower advocates an opportunity to make a new start on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (“WPEA”). The National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) today calls on legislators and advocates to get it right this time.  Legal protections for federal employees should be enhanced without any provisions that would take away presently existing rights.  If any poison pills are included in new legislation, federal employees will continue to suffer when they raise concerns about waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government.

The obituaries over the defeat of the WPEA in the last Congress (S. 372), have taken on an air of nostalgia over how the forces of “good” were defeated by one lone anonymous Senate “hold,” that somehow caused a major landmark whistleblower rights bill for federal employees to be defeated. It is a great political story — if only it was half-true.  In reality, the final, compromised version of S. 372 was the worst and weakest whistleblower protection law approved by the Senate or the House over the past 30 years.  It was fatally flawed and divisive legislation.

A Roll Back of Important Rights

On May 14, 2009 over 290 public interest organizations, including all of the members of the Make if Safe Coalition, wrote an open letter to President Obama and Congress calling for the enactment of nine significant reforms in the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.  Unfortunately, S. 372 failed to include seven of these nine requirements.  Worse, it contained two major cutbacks in current rights.

The May 14th letter stated:

It is crucial that Congress restore and modernize the Whistleblower Protection Act by passing all of the following reforms:

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On December 10, 2010, the Senate passed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372) by unanimous consent. After a careful review of S. 372, the National Whistleblowers Center, the Federal Ethics Center, and the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition strongly recommend that the bill not be approved in its current form. We urge the House of Representatives to fix the bill and send it back to the Senate for final approval.
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Even though the MSPB continues to utterly fail to be a fair arbiter of federal employee cases, the Senate is proposing to give the MSPB more power to decide cases in favor of federal employers. In S. 372, the so-called Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, the Senate is giving the MSPB new summary judgment procedures (only in whistleblower cases).
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