January 29, 2009

House Passage of Taxpayer Accountability Amendment Safeguards Stimulus Dollars

A Joint Statement by GAP, American Federation of Government Employees, Common Cause, National Whistleblower Center, National Employment Lawyers Association, Project On Government Oversight, Public Citizen, Union of Concerned Scientists, and U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation

(Washington, D.C) – Our nine organizations today are offering our public support and appreciation for the House’s unanimous acceptance of a taxpayer accountability amendment yesterday.The bipartisan amendment, sponsored by Reps. Todd Platts (R-PA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) ensures that federal workers who expose waste, fraud and abuse in government will be protected from retaliation.

Current whistleblower laws on the books fail to protect federal whistleblowers from being fired, demoted or harassed. Since 1994, federal workers who were retaliated against have won less than one percent of their cases. Click here to read the amendment.

The House amendment incorporates the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and then-Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), in addition to Representatives Platts and Van Hollen in the last Congress. The House overwhelmingly approved the bill by a bipartisan vote of 331 to 94 in March 2007.

The Platts/VanHollen amendment had the strong backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who went to the House floor to speak for its passage. The Speaker wisely understood that the amendment guarantees that the stimulus package will disburse federal dollars in the most effective and transparent way.

Our groups agree with the Speaker that "It is inconceivable that the people’s business had been conducted so long without whistleblower protections to encourage every public employee to do the right thing … whistleblowers save extraordinary sums of money, protect the integrity of research done in federal labs, and restore public confidence in the work of our nation."

Our groups also appreciate the support of House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), all who issued statements in favor of the amendment.

We urge the Senate to ensure that its stimulus package, and the final stimulus law sent to the president, contains these strong whistleblower protections. Protecting federal whistleblowers is the best way to protect taxpayers and American families.