The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Tom Devine, GAP Legal Director  

Phone: 202.408.0034 ext. 124
Shanna Devine, GAP Legis. Coor.  
Phone:    240.888.2898

Public Demand for Federal Whistleblower Protection Unparalleled, Senate Mark-Up Wednesday


315 citizen organizations
and corporations have signed an open letter to congressional leadership and
President Obama 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
mark-up this Wednesday of the Senate's bill, S. 372, the Whistleblower
Protection Enhancement Act of 2009.

A copy of the letter is
available on GAP's Web site here:

The open letter signed by
315 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 first two crucial reforms
endorsed in the letter are to 1) grant employees the right to a jury trial in
federal court, and 2) extend meaningful protections to FBI and intelligence
agency whistleblowers.

Individual citizen
support was also recently demonstrated in the Obama administration's "Open
Government Initiative." This directive sought independent ideas from the
public about methods the administration could employ to increase overall
government transparency, public participation, and public collaboration. At the
end of this unique program, a MISC recommendation suggesting the institution of
strong whistleblower protections for federal employees overwhelmed the
competition. The recommendation received twice as many endorsements as any
other idea put forth by the public during the program - a total amount of
304 different ideas, divided among 16 categories.

Tom Devine, Legal
Director of the Government Accountability Project, commented, "From every
ideology and party, the demand for genuine whistleblower rights is
intensifying. Last year at this time, 112 organizations joined the call. This
year it is 315. While our message to restore the WPA has remained the same over
the past decade, the need for genuine whistleblower rights is now unsurpassed
when it comes to the public's right to know. We face unprecedented threats of
waste from record stimulus spending, and daily headlines on breaches of basic
civil liberties and illegal sanctions of torture, often shocking surprises to
Congress and the public alike."

This Wednesday the Senate
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is expected to vote on its
version of bill.

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.