Washington, DC – Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Senator Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) today introduced the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009 to strengthen the existing Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). The bill builds upon legislation previously introduced by Senators Akaka and Collins, the Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act. They were joined in this effort by Senators Grassley, Levin, Lieberman, Voinovich, Leahy, Kennedy, Carper, Pryor, and Mikulski.
Senator Akaka said: “The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act addresses many court decisions that have eroded protections for federal employees and have ignored congressional intent. Our legislation ensures that federal whistleblowers are protected from retaliation if they notify the public and government leaders of waste, fraud, and abuse. This protection is crucial to our efforts to improve government management, protect the public, and secure the nation. In this time of economic crisis, we must act to make sure the government uses tax dollars efficiently and effectively. Restoring credibility to the WPA is no less than a necessity.”
Senator Collins added: “Congress, and our Committee in particular, must have access to the information provided by whistleblowers to conduct proper oversight and to reform government programs. This legislation will help ensure that federal employees can come forward and disclose instances of misconduct, waste, and abuse without fear of retaliation. Absent these needed protections, cases of fraud and abuse could go unnoticed as would-be whistleblowers remain quiet out of fear.”
Specifically, the legislation:
- Clarifies congressional intent that federal employees are protected for any disclosure of waste, fraud, or abuse – including those made as part of an employee’s job duties;
- Suspends the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals sole jurisdiction over federal employee whistleblower cases for five years, which would ensure a fuller review of a whistleblower’s claim.
- Provides whistleblower protection for employees at the Transportation Security Administration.
- Clarifies 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.
- Bars agencies from revoking an employee’s security clearance, enforcing a nondisclosure policy, or investigating an employee in retaliation for a protected disclosure.
The Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act, a prior version of this bill, passed the Senate by unanimous consent on December 17, 2007, and as an amendment to the FY 07 Defense Authorization Act. The bill was approved by the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in the 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses.