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Public Citizen Applauds House Vote to Encourage Federal Workers to Watchdog Spending of Taxpayer Dollars

We applaud the House of Representatives for answering

the call on Wednesday for more meaningful transparency and

accountability in the federal spending bill. House lawmakers passed a

critical, bipartisan whistleblower protection amendment offered by

Reps. Todd Platts (R-Pa.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) that will

strengthen and expand protections for federal workers and contractors

who report waste, fraud and abuse. We strongly urge the Senate to

include the same commonsense whistleblower protections in its stimulus

spending legislation.

This is a true victory for taxpayers who will be

well-served if the final stimulus bill empowers hard-working federal

employees and contractors who are uniquely positioned to observe and

report if funds are mishandled. Workplace retaliation for reporting

wrongdoing is real and ruthless. That’s why we have long fought for

these critical protections. 

The original Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 has

become ineffective, worn down by obstructionist administrative policies

and a monopoly court that repeatedly left whistleblowers vulnerable and

without justice. The consequences of the gutting of this law have never

been more apparent as we suffer an economic crisis brought on by a

culture of secrecy in government and unregulated greed and corruption

on Wall Street. 

The new whistleblower provisions should become law so

that federal whistleblowers will no longer fear intimidation and

retaliation for reporting wrongdoing. The whistleblower measures

overturn a series of activist court decisions and include consideration

for and protections of disclosures of possible wrongdoing made during

regular job duties; codify protections against retaliatory

investigations; allow for due process for security clearance revocation

– a favorite reprisal technique; extend specific protections to

federally funded scientists, as well as baggage screeners and other

Transportation Security Administration personnel; and end the monopoly

of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals of appellate review, restoring

the right to an appeal in any appropriate U.S. court of appeals and

access to jury trials.

The new whistleblower protection measure originally was

championed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and passed the House by a

vote of 331-94 in 2007, but eventually was stymied by Senate inaction.

Thanks largely to the support and leadership of House Speaker Nancy

Pelosi, as well as that of Reps. Platts, Van Hollen, Waxman, Bruce

Braley (D-Iowa), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), House Oversight and

Government Reform Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), Homeland Security

Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and the other representatives who

have spoken out in support of the measure, these effective protections

now can become the law of the land.

With our allies from a broad coalition of groups representing

millions of concerned individuals, Public Citizen will continue to

advocate for strong protections for federal workers and contractors so

they can effectively safeguard the public trust and taxpayer dollars.

It should not take incredible acts of courage to become a government

whistleblower, as it does now, when only the bravest civil servants

come forward to report waste, fraud and abuse. It’s time to end the era

of repression and ensure that all civil servants feel safe to do their

jobs and make our government more open and accountable to the American