Maloney Leads Bipartisan Group of Members in Introducing Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act
Washington, D.C. (May 4, 2021)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee of Oversight and Reform, led a group of bipartisan Members in reintroducing The Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act of 2021 to strengthen protections for federal employees who expose wrongdoing. Chairwoman Maloney announced the reintroduction at the start of yesterday’s Committee hearing examining the bill and other legislative reforms to improve government transparency and accountability.
“This bill would clarify that no federal employee—including the President or Vice President of the United States—may interfere with or retaliate against a whistleblower for sharing information with Congress,” Chairwoman Maloney said in her opening statement. “The bill would provide federal whistleblowers with faster legal recourse for retaliation claims, and would allow whistleblowers who take a claim to court to have their case heard by a jury.”
“The Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act is a critical step forward in restoring trust in government and empowering federal employees to report waste, fraud and abuse,” said Subcommittee Chairman Gerald E. Connolly. “In the wake of the Trump administration’s assault on whistleblowers and the IG community, we must demonstrate that public servants will be protected and not retaliated against for simply doing the right thing.”
“Since America’s founding, the government has relied on the courage and moral compass of whistleblowers to uncover waste, fraud, and abuse. And the Justice Department has recovered more than $62 billion in false claims alone since 1986, when Congress substantially strengthened the False Claims Act, clearly proving the value of this service to the American people,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, Co-Chair of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus. “Under the previous administration, these truthtellers were subjected to doxing, stalking, and other forms of abuse simply for exposing wrongdoing. I am proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing this legislation to ensure that federal employees can come forward without fear of retaliation or retribution. I am also confident that the Biden Administration will help return our government to one that rewards rather than punishes people for doing the right thing.”
“Federal employees should feel safe and empowered to speak out against fraud and abuse when they see it,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “However, during the last four years, many whistleblowers were met with doxing and other forms of retribution simply for trying to do the right thing. The Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act will strengthen and enhance whistleblower laws to protect them from potential retaliation. Whistleblowers risk their careers to expose wrongdoing, and we must make sure they are welcomed, not punished, for their heroic actions.”
"Protections afforded to other National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) employees are not available to the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, and the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act will address that issue and build upon how we support those who support our nation's scientific operations," said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. "We owe these brave women and men a fair shot; we must assure them that if they discover and report mismanagement, waste, abuse of authority, or a danger to public health or safety that there will be a meaningful system of protection for them against retaliation. I am proud to cosponsor this bill; our scientific integrity is made strong by whistleblowers, we must ensure they have the support they need.”
“When Americans alert the nation to waste, fraud, and abuse by the federal government, they take immense personal, professional, and emotional risks,” said Rep. Nancy Mace. “Right now, these brave citizens are vulnerable to vicious campaigns of intimidation and retaliation which put their ability to provide for their families in jeopardy. Whistleblowers help root out corruption and we must ensure they aren't victimized or silenced by those who seek to abuse their power."
Among other reforms, the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act of 2021 would:
- Expand Whistleblower Protections by:
- Making clear that no federal government employee may interfere with or retaliate against a federal employee sharing information with Congress;
- Prohibiting agencies from launching retaliatory investigations against employees who blow the whistle; and
- Prohibiting retaliation against a federal employee for disclosing to a supervisor any violations of law, gross mismanagement or waste, abuse of authority, or substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.
- Ensure Due Process and Equitable Relief for Whistleblowers by:
- Providing timely consideration and appeals for employees who request a delay in adverse personnel actions;
- Granting whistleblowers access to a jury trial in federal district court if the Merit Systems Protections Board does not issue a decision in 180 days (or 240 days for complex cases); and
- Clarifying that whistleblowers who prevail are entitled to recover attorney fees and be granted necessary relief to make them whole, such as through training, restoration of seniority, or a promotion consistent with the employee’s record.
- Provide Protections for more Federal Employees by extending Title 5 protections to noncareer Senior Executive Service employees, Public Health Service officers or applicants, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s commissioned officer corps.
Today’s legislation is supported by the Government Accountability Project, National Taxpayers Union, Project On Government Oversight, Taxpayer Protection Alliance, and Whistleblowers of America.
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