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Congress strengthens protections for federal whistleblowers

Yesterday, Congress passed a bill that significantly strengthened protections for federal employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, abuse, and illegality. According to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), a federal agency that enforces whistleblower laws, the new law will, among other things:

  • Overturn legal precedents that narrowed protections for government whistleblowers;
  • Give whistleblower protections to employees who are not currently covered, including TSA employees;
  • Restore OSC’s ability to seek disciplinary action against supervisors who retaliate against whistleblowers; and
  • Hold federal agencies accountable for retaliatory investigations.

Whistleblower advocates have expressed high praise for this new law. “The WPEA closes many loopholes and upgrades protections for federal workers who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, abuse and illegality,” said Angela Canterbury, director of public policy for the Project on Government Oversight. With the Senate’s action, “free speech rights for government employees never have been stronger,” said Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project.