This was sent to me recently by someone who had written Senator Warner, very concerned about the lack of functional protections and support for whistleblowers in government and industry.  This person’s view is that the current laws are not functioning, particularly in light of the dissembling and disassembling of the Justice Department we have witnessed recently. 

Senator Warner’s response sounds good and in fact if I didn’t know what I know about how many people have been torpedoed by the system, I might believe it.  But, I am only too aware of what is really happening to whistleblowers who dare to stand up.

Anybody care to write Senator Warner with their own story and experience?  It sounds like he would benefit from the experience.

GFS

 

********************************************************************************************************************

June 17, 2008

 

Dear _______________:

 

            Thank you for contacting me regarding the importance of whistleblower protection for federal employees. I appreciate your thoughtful inquiry.

 

            As you are aware, federal employees are critical to detecting and preventing fraud, waste, and abuse in the federal government. Whether they work for the federal government or a private corporation, employees must trust that they will be protected from reprisals and that their reports will be considered diligently and acted upon in order for them to be comfortable in their responsibility to report wrongdoing.

 

            Congress recognized the importance of protecting federal employees against whistleblower retaliation in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. The legislation established a merit system for fair and nondiscriminatory treatment of the federal workforce and defined prohibited personnel practices, which included reprisal for whistleblowing.

 

            For federal employees who believe that they have been subject to whistleblower reprisal, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) will investigate their complaints and seek corrective action where appropriate. If the federal agency fails to take the necessary corrective action, OSC or the employee may appeal the case to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) for resolution. Alternatively, federal employees also may file a reprisal complaint directly with MSPB. If a federal employee is dissatisfied with the resolution of a whistleblower reprisal complaint, the employee can file an appeal for review by a federal appeals court.

 

            In response to the growing problem of discrimination and retaliation against federal employees, I introduced S. 201, the Federal Employee Protection Act of 2001, to make federal agencies more accountable for prohibited personnel practices. On May 15, 2005, the President signed into law the House version of the bill, H.R. 169, the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (PL 107-143).

 

            The Act required any future settlements or judgments in federal employee discrimination and whistleblower actions must be paid directly from the employing agency’s budget. Previously, the associated costs were disbursed from the Judgment Fund, a permanent and indefinite appropriation to pay settlements and judgments against the federal government. Congress established the Fund to prevent the necessity for specific appropriations to cover government legal costs and, in principle, to allow for prompter payment. However, the Judgment Fund discouraged accountability by permitting an agency to shift the cost of resolution from its budget to the Fund and thus escaped the scrutiny associated with a request for a supplemental appropriation.

 

            To provide additional accountability, the legislation required federal agencies to file an annual report detailing the discrimination and whistleblower cases filed. Specifically, each federal agency is required to file the following information: number of cases filed against them, how the cases were resolved, the amount of any settlements, and the number of agency employee disciplines for discrimination or harassment.

 

            In the 110th Congress, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) introduced H.R. 985, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007, to modernize, clarify, and expand the federal employee whistleblower protection laws. In particular, the bill would expand coverage of whistleblower protection to federal employees who specialize in national security issues. On March 14, 2007, the House passed the legislation by a vote of 331 to 94. The bill has been referred to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for initial consideration in the Senate.

 

            Please be assured that I will certainly keep your comments as the Senate considers legislation related to whistleblower protection.

 

            Again, thank you for sharing your views with me.

 

            With kind regards, I am

 

                                                            Sincerely,

 

                                                            John Warner

                                                            United States Senator

 

JW/hb

 

Please note this email address does not accept incoming email. Should you wish to share additional views with me, please do not hesitate to visit my website at http://warner.senate.gov/contact/offices.htm; call my office at 202-224-2023; or write to me at United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510

 

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