Public Citizen Applauds President Obama for Issuing a Directive Guaranteeing Intelligence Community Workers Whistleblower Protections
Statement of Keith Wrightson, Worker Safety and Health Advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division
President Barack Obama issued a presidential policy directive Wednesday that can be characterized with one word: exceptional. This directive, designed to protect certain whistleblowers, will ensure that workers serving in the intelligence community or those who can access classified information can effectively report waste, fraud and abuse while protecting classified national security information. It also will prohibit retaliation against employees for reporting that waste, fraud and abuse.
Obama picked up where the U.S. House of Representatives left off last week when it passed S. 743 by unanimous consent. S. 743 had included protections for the intelligence community, but they were stripped out of the final measure.
The president’s directive will undo years of anxiety for intelligence community employees by:
• Prohibiting retaliation for a protected disclosure by an intelligence community employee;
• Establishing significant available remedies that include, but are not limited to, reinstatement, attorney’s fees, back pay and related benefits, travel expenses and compensatory damages; and
• Stipulating that nothing in this directive will limit existing rights under the Whistleblower Protection Act.
Additionally, the directive requires a report by the U.S. attorney general to the president on the implementation of FBI whistleblower protections and recommendations for increasing their effectiveness and ensuring appropriate enforcement.
Now, the Senate needs to pass S. 743 in its own chamber. Public Citizen urges it to do so, so federal civil employees can join their intelligence co-workers in looking forward to safer and more efficient workplaces.