The House Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds is a non-partisan support office that helps members of the House of Representatives, in the U.S. Congress, work with whistleblowers from the public and private sector. The Office helps members of the House with managing relationships with whistleblowers, protecting whistleblower information, and establishing an effective case management system. Although the Office cannot receive disclosures from whistleblowers, they can provide House members with training on best practices for working with whistleblowers.
The House Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds was founded in 2020, with the support of the House Whistleblower Protection Caucus, which aims to create bipartisan support for whistleblower protections.
According to its 2021 Annual Report the Office has already provided 49 foundational trainings, 139 case consultations, 76 intake process development consultations, and 3 technical legislative expertise consults. Further, the report described having engaged with 224 House Member offices and committees and conducted a year-end survey in which respondents overall level of satisfaction was 81%. The National Taxpayers Union commended the Office, stating that it has already provided services to hundreds of House Members and staff which include “130 trainings on how to work with whistleblowers” and 200 confidential consultations.
Part of the Office’s responsibilities is to identify whistleblower legislation as it is being introduced and this work is shown on the legislative tracker. The tracker currently has 100 pieces of open legislation with the newest legislation being introduced into the tracker on July 12, 2022. The tracker includes a custom description of the legislation, the date it was introduced, the last timeline of action, and an external link that takes you to the full description of the legislation.
The 117th Congress’ Strategic Plan for the Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds was drafted by the Office’s Director, Shanna Devine, Deputy Director, Rebecca Jones, and Deputy Director of Operations, John Witty – all of whom will be presenting during the National Whistleblower Day Fireside Chat with the Whistleblower Ombuds. The Strategic Plan highlights the Office’s mission, vision, office culture, strategy narrative, SWOT analysis, and its goals. The Office’s mission is to be independent and nonpartisan in order to help the House by providing education, training, and guidance to effectively work with whistleblowers. Just like its mission the Office’s vision is to remain nonpartisan so that they can be a valuable resource for the House by having safe and effective practices when working with whistleblowers.
The goals of the Office as highlighted in their Strategic Plan is separated into two years. Goal two of the Office is to expand its outreach in order for them to provide training for every House office by connecting with every office twice a year and with this there will be a development of a tracking system in order to complete the goal. Another goal of the Office is for transparency around Office’s operations while prioritizing confidentiality. This goal will be achieved by releasing an annual report with an overview of the Office’s general operation as well as consulting with committees of jurisdiction around new initiatives to determine suitability for public domain.
After just two years, the House Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds has been able to achieve demonstrable successes, and this year’s upcoming National Whistleblowers Day will include a panel with the House Office of the Whistleblower Ombuds. Alongside the Office staff, participants include Committee on House Administration, Staff Director, Tim Monahan, and Deputy Staff Director, Khalil Abboud, who will talk about their experience working with the Office seeking advice about how to work with whistleblowers. RSVP for the event here. The National Whistleblower Center calls on individuals to tell Congress to use this important resource today.