COMMITTEE APPROVES AKAKA-COLLINS WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION LEGISLATION

Washington, DC – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today approved whistleblower protection legislation that was introduced by Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Susan Collins (R-ME). The Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act strengthens protections for federal whistleblowers and encourages employees to come forward to disclose government waste, fraud, and abuse. “Congress has consistently supported the principle that federal employees should not be subject to prior restraint or punishment from disclosing wrongdoing. This should give federal workers the piece of mind that if they speak out, they will be protected,” said Senator Collins. “Full whistleblower protections will also help ensure that Congress and our Committee have access to the information necessary to conduct proper oversight.” The bipartisan legislation seeks to clarify congressional intent regarding the scope of protection provided to whistleblowers; provide for an independent determination as to whether a whistleblower was retaliated against by revoking his or her security clearance; establish a pilot program to suspend the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals’ monopoly on federal employee whistleblower cases for a period of five years; and provide the Office of Special Counsel, which is charged with representing the interests of federal whistleblowers, the authority to file amicus briefs with federal courts in support of whistleblowers. Senator Collins is the Chairman and Senator Akaka is a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Whistleblower Protection Act. Ranking Member Joseph Lieberan (D-CT) was also cosponsor of their bill. A bipartisan group of Senators support the legislation, including Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), who sponsored the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act. The Committee approved the whistleblower legislation by voice vote. It must now be considered by the Senate.