POGO - Bill to Expand Protections for Whistleblowers and Taxpayers Passes the Senate by Unanimous Consent


Bill to Expand Protections for Whistleblowers and Taxpayers Passes the Senate by Unanimous Consent

May 9, 2012


American Federation of Government Employees, Emily Ryan, 202-639-6421

Government Accountability Project (GAP), Tom Devine, 202-457-0037 or tomd@whistleblower.org Liberty Coalition, Michael Ostrolenk, 301-717-0599 or michaeldostrolenk@gmail.com

National Taxpayers Union, Pete Sepp, 703-683-5700 or pressguy@ntu.org

OpenTheGovernment.org, Patrice McDermott, 202-332-6736

Project On Government Oversight (POGO), Angela Canterbury, 202-347-1122 or acanterbury@pogo.org

Union of Concerned Scientists, Celia Wexler, 202-390-5481

In an unusual display of unanimity, yesterday the Senate passed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2011 (WPEA), S. 743, a landmark bill that would expand protections for federal employees who disclose wrongdoing and protect the public trust.

The bill has had a storied past over the past decade as various versions have been introduced, debated, and passed.  In 2010, when it seemed enactment was finally certain, an unrelated controversy about Wikileaks muddled the debate and killed the bill. Two senators placed “secret holds” on the bill in the last hours of the 111th Congress and left town for the holidays.  In fact, the WPEA has little to do with Wikileaks—except in that it will create lawful safe channels for disclosures and reduce unauthorized leaks.  The Senate has affirmed that this anti-leaks, anti-corruption bill is a timely reform.

The WPEA will modernize the government whistleblower law by ensuring legitimate disclosures of wrongdoing will be protected, increasing government accountability to taxpayers, and saving billions of taxpayer dollars by helping expose fraud, waste and abuse. The WPEA will also restore and expand free speech rights, specifically covering national security and intelligence community workers, federal scientists, and Transportation Security Administration officers.  The bill also will strengthen failed procedures; close loopholes; create efficiencies; and affirm lawful disclosures.  For the first time, some federal whistleblowers would have a real “day in court,” since the bill provides access to a jury trial in federal district court.

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