WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Mike Braun (R-IN) introduced bipartisan legislation to expand whistleblower protections for government contractors and grantees. The legislation closes existing loopholes in whistleblower protection laws that have left employees of federal contractors who have disclosed waste, fraud or abuse in federal agencies vulnerable to acts of reprisal. These loopholes have also resulted in a lack of accountability for government officials who retaliate against whistleblowers working for federal contractors.
“Whistleblowers play a critical role in exposing wrongdoing and holding the government accountable,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan legislation strengthens protections for individuals who blow the whistle on waste or fraud in federal contracts and improves accountability for federal officials who retaliate against them. Together this will help assure potential whistleblowers that they can raise concerns without fear of retaliation and help make sure that government is working effectively for taxpayers.”
“Whistleblowers who expose corruption at any level are courageous individuals, and should not have to fear for their safety or any sort of retaliation. I’m proud to join this bipartisan bill that bolsters protections for federal contractors and encourages brave men and women to blow the whistle when they witness misconduct,” said Senator Braun.
A lack of clarity in whistleblower protection laws have raised questions about whether whistleblowers who work for federal contractors are effectively safeguarded from acts of reprisal from federal officials. In some instances, these loopholes have allowed federal officials to retaliate against whistleblowers with no accountability.
The Expanding Whistleblower Protections for Contractors Act would close existing loopholes to expand whistleblower protections for federal contractors and grantees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse. The bill clarifies that whistleblower protections cannot be waived by nondisclosure agreement or other conditions of employment. The legislation would also ensure that these employees are not retaliated against for refusing to perform an action they believe is illegal. Finally, the bill would clarify that executive branch officials do not have the authority to request that contractors retaliate against whistleblowers, and would allow agencies to take disciplinary action against officials who do so.