WASHINGTON – In recognition of the crucial role played by whistleblowers in shining a light on fraud, waste and abuse in the federal government, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill has joined a bipartisan group of her colleagues to introduce a resolution designating July 30, 2017, as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day.
“Whistleblowers are our unsung heroes—the first line of defense in identifying and rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse in the government,” said McCaskill, a founding member of the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus and the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate’s leading oversight committee. “Since my days as Missouri’s state auditor, I’ve been committed to doing everything I can to protect hard-earned taxpayer dollars from going to waste, and I’m so thankful for all of the whistleblowers who’ve been pivotal partners in these efforts.”
The resolution aims to encourage federal agencies to acknowledge employees who call attention to fraud, waste and abuse and to remind employees of their legal rights as whistleblowers. It was introduced by all members of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus including Caucus Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Vice-Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon. National Whistleblower Appreciation Day will fall on the 239th anniversary of the first whistleblower protection law, enacted on July 30, 1778.
McCaskill is one of the leading voices in the Senate for protecting whistleblowers and targeting the waste, fraud, and abuse they uncover. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where McCaskill serves as the top-ranking Democrat, has oversight jurisdiction over nearly the entire federal government and has previously conducted successful investigations into government fraud and abuse based on information from federal whistleblowers. Just this year, McCaskill’s key accomplishments protecting whistleblowers and investigating their claims include:
- President Trump signed into law a bipartisan bill that expands whistleblower protections to federal employees who refuse to break federal rules or regulations even when they’re directed to by a supervisor.
- After McCaskill’s call for an investigation into whistleblower complaints about the contractor working on construction of a new clinic building and medical rehabilitation facility on the Jefferson Barracks campus of the VA St. Louis Health Care System, the VA’s Inspector General has responded after the Inspector General directed the VA to investigate and the investigation substantiated those complaints. McCaskill is now demanding answers on those remediation efforts and fighting to ensure that all costs associated with remediation are paid for by the contractor and not passed on to taxpayers.
- McCaskill and Grassley called for answers from the Missouri National Guard on what it will do to address findings that one of its contractors retaliated against contractor employee Michael Sandknop after he made disclosures that were protected under whistleblower statutes.
- McCaskill joined with Grassley and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson of Wisconsin to introduce legislation to reauthorize the Office of Special Counsel, which investigates federal employees’ claims of whistleblower retaliation and can order agencies to investigate employees’ disclosures of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.
- McCaskill, Grassley, and Wyden introduced legislation expanding whistleblower protections to those who work in Congress.
- As part of her oversight over Customs and Border Protection, McCaskill called for answers following reports that officers at Newark Liberty International Airport repeatedly abused and harassed fellow coworkers.
- McCaskill continues oversight over Department of Energy contractors working at the Hanford nuclear Waste Treatment Plant following concerns raised by whistleblowers who were subsequently retaliated against. She also joined a bipartisan group of Senators asking 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.
- Following a Government Accountability Office report that found issues with agencies’ implementation of whistleblower protections for government contractors, subcontractors, and grantees, McCaskill wrote the agency heads and inspectors general at the Departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, Interior, and State to ask what they’ll do to improve.
Previous efforts from McCaskill have included expanding whistleblower protections to government contractors, subcontractors, and others who the federal government directly or indirectly hires. The law also prohibits contractors from being reimbursed for legal fees accrued in their defense against retaliation claims by whistleblowers. Last year, McCaskill partnered with Senators Johnson and Grassley to pass a bill further empowering inspectors general to conduct oversight targeting waste, fraud, and abuse. During her first term in the Senate, McCaskill waged a successful six-year effort to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting and successfully called for the resignation of the NASA IG following reports of ineffective audit records, whistleblower retaliation, and other inappropriate action. The non-partisan organization GovTrack ranked McCaskill as the top Senator for government transparency.