Chairman Cummings Commemorates 30th Anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989
Washington, D.C. (Apr. 10, 2019)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, entered the statement below into the Congressional Record commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act.
Chairman Cummings has championed the rights of whistleblowers for many years, sponsoring the All Circuit Review Act and the All Circuit Review Extension Act and cosponsoring the House companions of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 and S. 795, a bill to enhance whistleblower protections for contractor and grantee employees which were all signed into law.
Whistleblowers have been an invaluable source of information enabling the Committee to conduct multiple investigations, including into White House security clearance process, harassment allegations of State Department employees, wasteful spending and improper retaliation at the Environmental Protection Agency, the effort to transfer sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, and efforts to terminate Planned Parenthood as a healthcare provider for Medicaid beneficiaries.
Below is the statement Chairman Cummings entered into the record today.
Statement on 30th Anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989
Chairman Elijah E. Cummings
April 10, 2019
Thirty years ago today, on April 10, 1989, one of the most critically important federal ethics laws in our history, the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), was enacted. As we mark the anniversary of the WPA, I would like to give special recognition to this federal statute that has empowered Congressional oversight and assisted our work over the years.
The WPA protects whistleblowers who work for the federal government from retaliation for reporting activity constituting a violation of law, rules, or regulations, or mismanagement, fraud, waste, and abuse, or substantial danger to public health and safety. A federal agency violates the WPA if it takes or threatens to take a retaliatory personnel action against an employee who makes a protected disclosure.
On this 30th anniversary of the WPA, we honor the contributions of the brave men and women who report wrongdoing despite great risks to their careers and personal lives as a result of retaliation.
Without the WPA, very few whistleblowers would be willing to come forward. Congress relies on the WPA to fulfill its Constitutional duty to provide checks and balances on the Executive Branch—the very root of our democracy. This past February, my Committee issued an interim staff report raising serious concerns about White House efforts to rush the transfer of highly sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia in potential violation of the Atomic Energy Act and without Congressional review as required by law. The Committee’s investigation was based on information that we received from multiple whistleblowers.
We also rely on the WPA to help safeguard our national security. Recently, a whistleblower working inside the White House Security Office was interviewed by the Committee about the dysfunctions in the White House that presented dangers to national security. This whistleblower “informed the Committee that during the Trump Administration, she and other career officials adjudicated denials of dozens of applications for security clearances that were later overturned.” She explained the reason she came forward, stating: “I would not be doing a service to myself, my country, or my children if I sat back knowing that the issues that we have could impact national security.”
My Committee would not have been able to conduct these oversight investigations without these whistleblowers, and these whistleblowers would not have come forward if they did not have the protections of the WPA.
We have made significant progress in protecting public servants who shine a light on corruption in the federal government, but we are not satisfied with the status quo. Congress must continue to ensure that agencies are following the existing law and also identify ways to improve the law to better serve the needs of our country.