Washington, D.C. — Legislation offered by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) that would strengthen whistleblower protections for federal employees passed the U.S. Senate today. The Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act was unanimously accepted as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, which cleared the Senate 96-0.
“This amendment reverses the steady erosion of whistleblower protections caused by employment practices that circumvent current protections and adverse court decisions,” said Senator Collins. “We must ensure that federal employees can continue to come forward and disclose instances of official or department misconduct without fear of retaliation. Absent these needed protections, cases of fraud and abuse will continue to go unnoticed as would-be informants remain quiet out of fear.”
Specifically, the Akaka-Collins bill will:
• Codify and strengthen the anti-gag provision that has been included in appropriations language since 1988;
• End the sole jurisdiction over federal whistleblowers cases of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals by permitting multi-circuit review for five-years;
• Restore congressional intent that employees are protected for “any” disclosure of waste, fraud, or abuse;
• Protect whistleblowers whose security clearance revocation is based on retaliation;
• Provide the Office of Special Counsel with the independent right to file amicus briefs in federal courts.