WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Saturday evening hailed Senate passage of bipartisan legislation that strengthens protections for federal whistleblowers and encourages federal employees to report waste, fraud, and abuse. The bill must now be passed by the House of Representatives before being sent to the President.
The Senate passed the Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act, S.372, late Friday by unanimous consent. The bill, whose primary sponsors are Senators Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and Susan Collins, R-Me., was co-sponsored by Lieberman and Senators Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., Thomas Carper, D-Del., Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Patrick Leahy, D-VT., Carl Levin, D-Mich., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Jon Tester, D-Mont., and George Voinovich, R-Ohio,
“This bill is another step toward an efficient, well-managed government,” Lieberman said. “By restoring and strengthening the Whistleblower Protection Act, Congress assures federal employees that, when they report waste, fraud, and abuse in the administration of federal programs, retaliation against them will not be tolerated. I am proud to join my colleagues in advancing the protections of federal whistleblowers.”
The bill as amended would:
• Clarify the broad protections for disclosure of waste, fraud, or abuse – including those made as part of an employee’s job duties.
• Extend whistleblower protections and other non-discrimination and anti-retaliation laws to employees at the Transportation Security Administration.
• Clarify that whistleblowers may disclose evidence of censorship of scientific or technical information under the same standards that apply to disclosures of other kinds of waste, fraud, and abuse.
• Provide all federal employees a process for making protected disclosures of classified information to Congress.
• Suspend the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sole jurisdiction over federal employee whistleblower cases for five years.
• Codify and strengthen the anti-gag provision that has been part annual appropriations laws since 1988.
• Require Whistleblower Ombudsmen in Inspectors General offices to educate federal whistleblowers.
• Allow whistleblowers to bring their cases before a jury under certain circumstances.
• Provide protection for Intelligence Community employees against retaliation for whistleblowing.
• Set up a process to review claims of whistleblower retaliation in security clearance decisions.