Oversight Committee Passes Bipartisan Bills Strengthening Whistleblower Protections

Published: May 2, 2017

WASHINGTON – Today, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform passed three bipartisan bills to strengthen protections for whistleblowers.
 
“Whistleblowers must be protected. Period. Their courageous efforts keep the federal government open and honest. Passing these bipartisan bills illustrates our commitment to protecting a whistleblower’s right to report information,” said Chairman Jason Chaffetz. “To do its job, the agency tasked with investigating whistleblower retaliation needs full access to individual personnel decisions. That is why I am a proud cosponsor of the OSC Access Act, which clarifies OSC’s access to all agency documents on individual cases.”
 
“These bills send a strong message that we have the backs of whistleblowers,” said Ranking Member Cummings.  “I introduced the All Circuit Review Act to ensure that whistleblowers who live outside Washington have the same rights as those who live here, and the Committee’s actions today show that when we work together in a bipartisan manner, Congress can accomplish the kind of work our constituents sent us here to do.”
 
“Whistleblower laws protect workers who do the right thing and report wrong-doing,” said Congressman Blake Farenthold. “The All Circuit Review Act will help whistleblowers by allowing them to appeal their cases to any circuit court of appeals with jurisdiction, not just a court in Washington, DC.”
  
“I am proud to sponsor the OSC Access Act on behalf of whistleblowers nationwide,” said Congressman Rod Blum. “It is unacceptable that agencies stonewall OSC investigations by withholding critical information. I thank Chairman Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and other co-chairs of the House Whistleblower Protection Caucus for their support of this bill that clarifies that the OSC does have the authority to obtain documents
relevant to their investigations.”
 
H.R. 2196, a bill introduced by Rep. Steve Russell (D-OK), Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), would:
  • allow whistleblowers covered by the Whistleblower Protection Act to make disclosures of classified information to any supervisors “in the employee’s direct chain of command up to and including the head of the employing agency.”
H.R. 2195, the OSC Access Act,  which was introduced by Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA), Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Ranking Member Cummings, and Reps. Mike  Coffman (R-CO), Tom Rice (R-SC), and Jacki Speier (D-CA), would clarify Congress’s longstanding intent that:
  • the Office of Special Counsel has authority to obtain all relevant information from agencies under its jurisdiction;
  • “a claim of common law privilege by an agency, shall not prevent the OSC from obtaining any material”; and
  • an agency does not waive the right to assert common law privileges against non-federal entities or individuals by providing information to the OSC.
H.R. 2229, the All Circuit Review Act, which was introduced by Ranking Member Cummings and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), would:
  • make permanent a pilot provision in the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 that allows whistleblowers to appeal cases from the Merit Systems Protection Board to any circuit court of appeals with jurisdiction; and
  • give the Office of Personnel Management authority to file petitions to review orders of the Merit Systems Protection Board in any court of appeals with jurisdiction.
H.R. 2196, a bill introduced by Rep. Steve Russell (D-OK), Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), and Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), would:
  • protect whistleblowers covered by the Whistleblower Protection Act who make disclosures of restricted information to any supervisors “in an  employee’s direct chain of command.”