I received the following in Email from the Government Accountability Project:
Groups Hail Lautenberg Whistleblower Bill
Washington, D.C. - The Government Accountability Project (GAP) today welcomed new legislation introduced by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.) to strengthen whistleblower protection: The Whistleblower Empowerment, Security and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2006. Lautenberg's bill is designed to complement core reforms in S. 494, legislation he co-sponsored with Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chair Susan Collins (R.-Me.) and Senator Daniel Akaka (D.-Hi.). Although Collins' committee unanimously has approved the good government reform each of the last three congresses, Senate leaders have refused to schedule a vote at the Justice Department's urging. The American Whistleblowers League joins GAP in hailing the legislation.
"Senator Lautenberg's bill is the missing link to complete desperately needed reforms for protection of both government whistleblowers and taxpayers," explained GAP Legal Director Tom Devine. The new legislation follows last week's House of Representatives bill, the Paul Revere Freedom to Warn Act introduced by Rep. Ed Markey (D.-Ma.), a model whistleblower bill establishing global best practices and consistent rules for both government and corporate whistleblowers.
Devine continued, "Congressional leaders no longer have the political option to avoid this issue. Action must be taken now. It's no wonder whistleblower bills are getting introduced every week. Whistleblowers are the Achilles heel of bureaucratic corruption and abuses of power sustained by secrecy. Congress has to deal with government whistleblower rights, just as it did for corporate workers after the Enron-MCI scandals. Last week, polls confirmed that 80% of Americans believe open government is essential for democracy to function. Americans are still dying for that principle in other countries. It is time for House and Senate leaders to craft a consensus reform with the best features from all the current bills."
Senator Lautenberg's legislation adds four features to round out core employment reforms:
* Full whistleblower rights for employees of the FBI and the intelligence agencies who currently are not covered by the civil service merit system
* Providing jury trials as an alternative to administrative hearings for government whistleblowers (a reform also added by House Government Reform Chair Tom Davis to H.R. 1317, the counterpart to S. 494)
* Allowing whistleblowers who lose their security clearances to sue for damages (reinforcing the right in S. 494 to keep their jobs despite clearance loss)
* Permitting reprisal victims to petition for a special prosecutor to seek criminal accountability
"GAP supports this legislation and we will take action to help achieve its passage," stated GAP Executive Director Mary Brumder. "It completes the reforms already effectively addressed in S. 494. With this legislation, government whistleblowers will again have a fair chance to reveal corruption and mismanagement without losing their careers in the process."
(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 with offices in Washington, D.C. and Seattle, WA. )