Blowing the Whistle at Your Agency May Have Just Gotten Easier

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Federal whistleblowers will soon have new allies on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, announced Thursday he will create the Senate Whistleblower Caucus to ensure protections for federal employees exposing wrongdoing at their agencies are being enforced.

“Whistleblower protections are only worth anything if they’re enforced,” said Grassley, who made the announcement to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act. “Just because we’ve passed good laws does not mean we can stop paying attention to the issue. There must be vigilant oversight by Congress.”

Grassley, who co-sponsored the 1989 WPA and other measures to protect whistleblowers, added the caucus will facilitate a culture that respects an employee’s right to vocalize wrongdoing.

“Whistleblowers are often treated like skunks at a picnic,” he said. “It takes guts to put your career on the line to expose waste and fraud, and whistleblowers need senators who will listen and advocate for them.”

Tom Devine, legal director at the Government Accountability Project, said now is the perfect time for a whistleblower caucus to form. The whistleblower advocate envisioned the caucus would not just provide oversight of existing laws, but also introduce and rally support for new measures.  

The caucus is “a badly needed booster shot for the end game of whistleblower rights advocacy,” Devine said, adding it will give lawmakers “a chance to move beyond lip service and roll up their sleeves.”

Devine agreed with Grassley that recent victories for whistleblowers “look good on paper but are not worth the paper they are written on,” if not properly enforced. Devine noted, however, outstanding issues such as the recent court decision to limit hundreds of thousands of federal employees’ appeal rights against firings or demotions, restoring whistleblower protections for contractors and those in the intelligence community, the trend of federal agencies harassing whistleblowers by launching criminal investigations against them and the establishment of whistleblower ombudsmen at each agency’s inspector general’s office as areas that require new congressional action.

Grassley’s office said the senator will spend the next six months putting the caucus together. “Preliminary discussions” have yielded interest in joining the caucus from members of both parties, a spokeswoman said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.