McCaskill Bill Requires Firing of VA Employees Who Retaliate Against Whistleblowers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 11, 2014     

Contact: Sarah Feldman (print) or Anamarie Rebori (broadcast) – 202-228-6263  

McCaskill Bill Requires Firing of VA Employees Who Retaliate Against Whistleblowers

As VA announces restructuring of Medical Inspector Office, Senator aims to protect whistleblowers following troubling reports of patient care abuse 

WASHINGTON – Any Veterans Affairs employee found to have retaliated against a whistleblower would be fired under legislation announced today by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill. 

The announcement of McCaskill’s bill comes the day after the VA announced a restructuring of the Office of the Medical Inspector in the wake of an investigation that found the office covered up whistleblower complaints at numerous VA facilities. 

“Whistleblowers are critical to our efforts to guard against waste and misconduct in government—and in the case of the VA, against the compromise of patient care,” said McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight, and a champion for whistleblower protections. “This bill requires the firing of any VA employee found to have retaliated against a whistleblower—no ifs, ands, or buts—and I’m hopeful it will be a step in the right direction to change the culture of the VA and ensure our veterans are receiving the highest level of care.” 

The bill will require the termination of any employee found to have retaliated against a whistleblower. Currently, a finding of retaliation against a whistleblower in punishable by a range of procedures, including fines and reprimand. 

McCaskill, the daughter of a World War II veteran, previously called for swift action and requested additional information from the Office of Special Counsel on its investigation of whistleblower retaliation by Veterans Affairs employees. OSC is currently investigating nearly 60 cases of whistleblower retaliation at the VA. McCaskill requested the information from OSC to determine the scope of the retaliation problem and protect future whistleblowers. 

Last month, McCaskill used a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing to call for expanded whistleblower protections for intelligence contractors—to better protect those who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse in the intelligence community. She also recently introduced bipartisan legislation to bolster the independence of the National Security Agency’s Inspector General—in part by requiring the office to conduct annual reviews of whistleblower protections for agency employees and contractors, and provide recommendations to improve those mechanisms. 

Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/accountability to read more about McCaskill’s fight for stronger accountability in Washington. 

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