Today, the National Whistleblowers Center joined a letter with members of the Make it Safe Coalition asking President Obama to reaffirm his campaign commitment to stronger whistleblower protections. The letter acknowledges the Presidents efforts to improve transparency and accountability in the federal government with the creation of the Open Government Directive and the recent memorandum to agency heads directing them to adopt appropriate whistleblower protections to ensure scientific integrity. However, the groups express concern that the President’s signing statement on March 11th could have a chilling affect on lawful whistleblower disclosures to Congress.
The letter urges President Obama to make his position clear and take three concrete steps to fulfill his commitment to transparency and accountability through strengthened federal employee whistleblower rights.
The Three Steps:
1) Commitment: Reaffirm his strong endorsement of reforms for federal whistleblower rights made in his campaign statements and transition policy – reforms providing best-practice free speech rights, including full court access for all whistleblowers funded by taxpayers and coverage of government contractors – and the appointment of a liaison responsible for interacting with whistleblower advocates as set forth in his May 8, 2007, response to a candidate survey.
2) Change: Actively support the swift enactment of strong whistleblower protections, such as those in the bipartisan H.R. 1507, sponsored by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA), in advance of congressional hearings this year, and communicate that message specifically to Attorney General Eric Holder. The president’s help will ensure that Congress enacts strong, comprehensive federal whistleblower protection legislation that gives all federal employees a functional administrative process and access to jury trials.
3) Leadership: Issue and enforce a directive to all agency managers that they must not tolerate any retaliation against federal employees who expose waste, fraud, abuse, suppression of federal research, threats to public health and safety, and illegality. While this directive alone will not resolve the need for improvements to the law, it will help to send a strong message of support for federal employees and help to end the culture of secrecy.
The NWC is optimistic that by working together with the President and members of Congress meaningful whistleblower protection for all federal employees will soon become a reality. If you would like to express your support to Congress please sign the petition.