TSA employees get whistleblower protections

Erik S. Lesser/AP

This story has been updated.

President Obama on Tuesday signed into law a bill that expands safeguards for federal employees who report waste, fraud or abuse.

The bill (S. 743), which cleared its last congressional hurdle earlier this month, grants whistleblower protections for employees who lacked them before, including Transportation Security Administration officers. It also establishes ombudsmen to educate employees about their rights to expose mismanagement and strengthens the Office of Special Counsel’s authority to pursue punishment for supervisors who retaliate against whistleblowers, among other provisions.

The language granting coverage to TSA employees takes effect immediately, OSC said, and the other pieces of the law will take effect Dec. 27.

The new protections -- sponsored by retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii -- have been more than a decade in the making. In a statement, OSC praised the bill’s advocates for their “leadership in promoting government accountability.”

Akaka cited the bill's signing as a highlight of his career.

Whistleblowers "save taxpayer money and make our government more efficient," he said in a statement.  "They absolutely deserve our support and I am so proud that these new protections are now enacted into law."

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