Aiming for Stronger Accountability, McCaskill Continues Years-Long Effort to Expand Whistleblower Protections in New Bipartisan Bills

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, joined with Committee Chairman Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa to introduce two bills that seek to expand whistleblower protections.  

“Whistleblowers are absolutely essential to tackling waste, fraud, and abuse and saving taxpayer dollars,” said McCaskill, former Missouri State Auditor. “I’m glad to join with my colleagues across the aisle to strengthen government accountability. Our bills protect whistleblowers from losing their job or missing out on a promotion because they do the right thing.”

The Office of Special Counsel Reauthorization Act of 2017 reauthorizes the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) through 2022. The independent agency investigates federal employees’ claims of whistleblower retaliation and manages agency action based on employees’ disclosures of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. The new bill introduced this week increases accountability and expands the agency’s ability to investigate whistleblower retaliation complaints. The Follow the Rules Act protects workers who refuse to break federal rules and regulations even when they’re directed to by their supervisor. Currently, these workers can be fired or demoted, as the law only protects workers who refuse to break laws passed by Congress, not workers who won’t break federal rules or regulations issued by government agencies.

Since her days as Missouri’s State Auditor, McCaskill has long focused her efforts on weeding out waste, fraud, and abuse. She has expanded whistleblower protections to government contractors, subcontractors, and others who the federal government directly or indirectly hires through bipartisan bills that have been signed into law. In her position this year as ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, she has made clear her continued support for protecting federal whistleblowers, and last year, she partnered with Senators Johnson and Grassley to pass a bill further empowering inspectors general to conduct oversight targeting waste, fraud, and abuse.