Grassley Bill to Better Protect Federal Whistleblowers Becomes Law
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan proposal to empower and protect whistleblowers across the federal bureaucracy was signed into law yesterday. The Whistleblower Protection Coordination Act permanently extends a program requiring each inspector general office to designate an official focused on whistleblower protection issues. The law was introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).
“It’s not always easy to figure out how to disclose waste, fraud or abuse in government when there are so many different rules governing different agencies. Empowering coordinators across the federal government will give whistleblowers a clear, confidential resource to make sure they are informed and equipped to lawfully carry out their patriotic duty to shine a light on inefficiencies or misconduct in government,” Grassley said. “This law represents an important step for keeping faith with the American people, but there is always more to do to protect whistleblowers.”
The Whistleblower Protection Coordination Act permanently extends the program requiring a dedicated official in each inspector general office focused on whistleblower protection issues. The bill changes the title of these officials from ombudsman to “Whistleblower Protection Coordinator” so that potential whistleblowers better understand the role of this position, and it authorizes them to more actively promote whistleblowing to employees in their agency. Under this new bill, the coordinators will be tasked with assisting inspectors general in productive communications with other stakeholders, like the Office of Special Counsel and congress. They will also be able to better help the inspectors general strengthen their own roles in investigating reprisal and whistleblower disclosures. The legislation also requires additional reporting to congress on actual steps taken to hold accountable those who retaliate against whistleblowers.