Groups, Members of Congress Press for Federal Whistleblower Rights

For Immediate Release

Government Accountability Project
Contact: 

Tom Devine, GAP Legal Director
240.888.4080
tomd@whistleblower.org

Adam Miles, GAP Legislative Representative
202.276.2007
adamm@whistleblower.org

Groups, Members of Congress Press for Federal Whistleblower Rights

WASHINGTON - The Government Accountability Project (GAP) today released a letter to congressional leadership and President Obama from 260 citizen organizations and corporations supporting prompt passage of legislation to restore a credible Whistleblower Protection Act for federal employees. Many of the groups are members of the Make It Safe Coalition, which was created to support whistleblower rights. The organizational petition is particularly timely for a pending $825 billion stimulus bill facing imminent congressional votes.

A copy of the letter is available on GAP's Web site here: http://www.whistleblower.org/doc/2008/CoalitionLetter.pdf

The coalition is urging support for an amendment to the stimulus legislation sponsored by Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). With Rep. Henry Waxman, now the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, and Rep. Tom Davis, who retired at the end of the last Congress, Platts and Van Hollen were the original co-sponsors of H.R. 985, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which overwhelmingly passed (331-94) the House of Representatives in March 2007. The text of the Platts/Van Hollen amendment to the stimulus is identical to H.R. 985. The Rules Committee will vote this afternoon to determine if the Platts/Van Hollen whistleblower amendment will receive an "up or down" vote by the House. Additionally, GAP is releasing a letter from Rep. Platts to Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI), urging support for the federal employee protections. Rep. Platts sent identical letters to three other Committee chairs.

Click here to read Rep. Platts' letter: http://www.whistleblower.org/doc/2008/PlattsLetter.pdf

When the House publicly released the stimulus legislation, it stated that whistleblower protections applied both to federal employees responsible for spending oversight, as well as federal contractors and state and local recipients. But the bill's text contains nothing to strengthen whistleblower rights for federal workers.

GAP Legal Director Tom Devine commented, "Last year Congress spent $700 billion, and said it later would provide accountability structures such as whistleblower protection. Soon the money will all be spent, and federal employees still proceed at their own risk if they try to keep the spending honest. Without best practices whistleblower rights in the next $825 billion, it could become a blank check for fraud, waste and abuse. This time Congress needs to enact whistleblower rights before the taxpayers' money is spent."

"The protections for federal contractors and state and local employees in the stimulus are an important step toward greater accountability in government spending programs," added GAP Legislative Representative Adam Miles. "However, President Obama has indicated his support for federal employee whistleblower rights time and time again. Now it is time for Congress to act."

The letter signed by 260 organizations stresses: "Whistleblower protection is a foundation for any change in which the public can believe. It does not matter whether the issue is economic recovery, prescription drug safety, environmental protection, infrastructure spending, national health insurance, or foreign policy. We need conscientious public servants willing and able to call attention to bureaucratic corruption on behalf of the taxpayers."

The House Rules Committee meeting will begin on 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, January 27, and will determine whether to accept the Platts/Van Hollen amendment to add whistleblower protection for federal workers.

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The Government Accountability Project is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP's mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.

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