Federal whistleblowers now have stronger protections

For decades, federal employee unions and advocacy organizations have complained about weak protections for feds who stand up and blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse.

Despite several reforms in federal law and regulations—from the Whistleblower Protection Act (1989), to the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (2012), and others—on the ground such complaints continue to resonate with rank-and-file federal employees, who have seen a long line of high-profile whistleblowers get punished in various ways for their legitimate—and often heroic—efforts.

So, it comes as good news that the House of Representatives recently put in place what backers hope might help remedy the problem: new rules strengthening protections for federal whistleblowers who disclose wrongs to lawmakers. How so? As of this week, for the first time, House members who breach confidentiality on the identity of an anonymous whistleblower will be held to have violated that body’s Official Code of Conduct.

“The framers of the Constitution assigned the U.S. Congress three basic functions: to represent, to legislate, and to conduct oversight of the executive branch,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wrote in a letter last November, where he proposed the change. “Without vigorous oversight that includes encouraging federal employees who see wrongdoing to report it anonymously and without fear of retribution, Congress cannot hold the executive officials, including the president and his appointees, to account or enact laws that serve the people it represents.”

“Members of Congress who would willfully undermine their own institution’s ability to conduct oversight by revealing or threatening to reveal the identities of whistleblowers must face consequences,” Hoyer continued.

The new rules, now in effect, are part of a package of House ethics reforms.=

For more information, feds should check in with their unions, government resources, and major advocacy organizations with expertise in whistleblower law and practice, such as the Project on Government Oversight’s whistleblower resources pages.

Reader comments

Wed, Jan 13, 2021

What is this "Big Outfit in Bethesda" that so many refer to flippantly in your comments?

Wed, Jan 13, 2021

Retaliation is illegal. However there are zero penalties for gov or military leaders who do it. This is also why documents being classified not to protect national security but to cover up abuse and neglect by upper managers. Current administration got away with firing the CIA guy and taking his pension and security clearance because he refused to lie about cabinet level wrongdoing. This tweak is meaningless as is the no fear act because there are no written penalties for managers who violate the Whistle blowers act or the no fear act.

Fri, Jan 8, 2021

To : At the Big Outfit in Bethesda ... Do the management criminals go to the Big Golf Course? Seriously though I hope you reported each of them by name.

Fri, Jan 8, 2021

At the Big Outfit in Bethesda, a whistle blower essentially ends their career when reporting blatant criminal activity. The criminals are known as management who cheat on time and actual hours in the office working rather than on the golf course. Other managers come in late and leave early along with a two hour lunch break. Regular workers if late because of traffic they are yelled at and intimidated.

Fri, Jan 8, 2021

And Obama prosecuted and persecuted the most whistleblowers ever. Go figure. And Democrats even right now are ignoring all the election fraud whistleblowers. So this hypocritical act in the article is just that.

Show All Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above.

2021 Digital Almanac

Stay Connected

Latest Forum Posts

Ask the Expert

Have a question regarding your federal employee benefits or retirement?

Submit a question