GAP Praises House Whistleblower Protection Bill

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Tom Devine, GAP Legal Director
202.408.0034 ext. 124
tomd@whistleblower.org

GAP Praises House Whistleblower Protection Bill

WASHINGTON - The Government Accountability Project (GAP) praised House sponsors who
introduced legislation today to overhaul the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA)
for "persistence and leadership to lock in accountability before stimulus
spending gears up." The bipartisan team led by Representatives Chris Van
Hollen (D.-MD.) and Todd Platts (R.-PA.) is acting promptly to pass federal
whistleblower rights as free standing legislation, after Senate conferees
objected to including identical safeguards as amendments to last month's
stimulus law.

Van Hollen and Platts were joined by House Government
Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman
Edolphus Towns
(D.-NY), and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) the reform's floor manager last
month when the same team successfully inserted it in the House stimulus
proposal. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D.-CA)
also sponsored the legislation.

GAP Legal Director Tom Devine commented: "The
House should act quickly to lock in accountability before the stimulus gears
up. Otherwise, unprecedented new spending will be an unprecedented opportunity
for fraud, waste and abuse."

Click here for Rep. Van Hollen's statement: http://www.whistleblower.org/doc/2008/VanHollen.pdf

Click here for Rep. Towns' statement: http://www.whistleblower.org/doc/2008/ChairmanTowns.pdf

Click here for Rep. Braley's statement: http://www.braley.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=321&Itemid=1

The sponsors' landmark good government reform
has four cornerstones: 1) restoring free speech rights on paper to their 1994
high water mark, before being gutted by 15 years of hostile judicial activism;
2) filling coverage gaps so all employees paid by the taxpayers are protected,
including national security whistleblowers, airport baggage screeners and
government contractors for all federal spending, instead of just stimulus
funds; 3) closing protection loopholes against common forms of harassment such
as retaliatory investigations and removal of security clearances; and 4) full
court access to enforce the rights.

While currently there is a so-called whistleblower law on paper
for federal workers, Devine warned, "In reality, today's WPA is a
trap that operates as an efficient machine to enforce secrecy by rubber
stamping retaliation against all naïve enough to take their rights
seriously." Since 1994 amendments, the track record at the Federal circuit
Court of Appeals with a monopoly of appellate review is 3-208 against
whistleblowers for decisions on the merits. At the administrative Merit Systems
Protection Board, whistleblowers' only chance for a day in
"court," the track record is 1-55 against them since 2000.

Devine added, "This badly-needed accountability
measure follows through on President Obama's campaign promise for federal
whistleblowers: best practice free speech rights enforced by full access to
court for all employees paid with government funds. Taxpayers should appreciate
persistence and leadership by Representatives Van Hollen and Platts. The
bi-partisan team they assembled successfully inserted this spending safeguard
in the House stimulus legislation last month. Now, the House must reaffirm that
mandate."

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The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.

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