WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, joined Senators Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Ron Wyden of Oregon in calling for the Department of Energy to strengthen whistleblower protections by reinstating rules that target Department of Energy contractors who retaliate against workers who expose nuclear safety violations and waste, fraud, or abuse. The agency has the largest number of civilian contractors working for the federal government and is responsible for maintaining America’s nuclear arsenal.
“No employee should have to risk losing their job to report waste, fraud, and abuse and those protections are even more important when it comes to exposing potential nuclear safety violations,” said McCaskill, former Missouri State Auditor. “Making sure that Energy Department whistleblowers don’t fear retaliation is essential for Congress to do its job of protecting public safety and saving taxpayer dollars. I consider protecting Energy Department whistleblowers to be a matter of national security.”
In the letter sent today to Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the senators write, “Whistleblowers at DOE have exposed substantial waste, fraud and abuse, as well as prevented serious safety violations across the DOE complex. That DOE contractors have retaliated against these whistleblowers is well documented. What’s missing is DOE’s willingness to do something to reverse the culture of retaliation among its contractors and to demand accountability.”
The letter comes after the Department of Energy recently suspended whistleblower protection rules that were first issued in 2016. The rules followed a GAO report – requested by McCaskill – that highlighted the department’s failure to protect contractor employee whistleblowers from retaliation. Following the report, McCaskill also successfully led a bipartisan effort to expand whistleblower protections to all government contractors, subcontractors, and others who the federal government directly or indirectly hires.
These efforts are part of McCaskill’s longtime work to weed out waste, fraud, and abuse that started in her days as Missouri’s State Auditor. Earlier this month, President Trump signed a McCaskill-backed bill to increase the Government Accountability Office’s access to databases essential to identifying and targeting waste and fraud in government programs. McCaskill has also made clear her continued support for protecting federal whistleblowers in her role as the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Read the letter to Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry HERE.
Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/accountability to read more about McCaskill’s fight for stronger accountability in Washington.