Whistleblower ‘dissent channels’ aren’t working, watchdog says
- By Nathan Abse
- Aug 03, 2020
For decades, federal agencies have offered employees “dissent channels” -- formal and informal ways to offer differing professional opinions, complain or blow the whistle on wasteful or dangerous practices. Indeed, such channels proliferated among the reforms that followed the Nixon era, and yet, according to new reports, they often still don’t work.
A new analysis in the Washington Post notes that “although some employees use the mechanisms without reprisal,” many feds -- from their own experience -- see dissent channels as useless, or worse. Dissenters said they often end up branded as troublemakers and frequently find their professional development curtailed. The piece explores a new report from the Project on Government Oversight, as well as other sources.
The article finds plenty of examples. Nuclear Regulatory Commission employees, when surveyed a few years ago, to a person reported that they suffered “negative consequences” after they used their agency’s dissent channel. Many State Department employees who objected through their dissent channel to this administration’s early travel ban from certain Muslim-majority countries were invited to separate by then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
And, currently, the Post piece notes, feds who are objecting to missteps in the federal coronavirus and racial justice protests response are enduring mishandled dissents, too.