Legal & Policy Challenges

New Directives to Protect Whisleblowers from Punishment

Directives and legislation providing protection for whistleblowers who disclose waste, fraud, or abuse within an agency, and punitive processes for managers who retaliate against those whistleblowers in their performance reviews should be established. irectives should clarify to all agencies, including law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the expectation that whistleblowers be robustly defended from reprisals and that whistleblower claims be dealt with quickly and fairly.

 

The president should establish a culture that supports whistleblowers by rewarding disclosure and punishing retaliation in performance appraisals. The president must also work with Congress to enact comprehensive federal whistleblower reform that extends meaningful protections to law enforcement and intelligence agency whistleblowers.

 

- From the 21st Century RTK Agenda

Why Is This Idea Important?

Whistleblowers play a vital role in ensuring we have a functioning, effective, and accountable government. When governmental checks and balances fail to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, the responsibility to call notice to a problem and hopefully bring about a resolution often falls to employees. Unfortunately, the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, which was enacted to protect federal employees against reprisals for the exposure of government inadequacies, has been rendered largely toothless by judicial decisions. Additionally, there have been recent administrative policies that seek to control and/or limit the speech of scientists, researchers, and policy personnel that might give voice to facts and opinions that differ from the current political agenda. While new legislation is needed to permanently establish increased protections and new whistleblower rights, such as a right to jury trials, much can still be done administratively.

Much of the mismanagement, unfair treatment, and limited enforcement of the protections could be rectified with new demands by the president that whistleblower protection be made a priority.

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Idea No. 244