Last week the House Oversight Committee reported out the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, a bill that is intended to increase protections for government employees and contractors who “blow the whistle” and disclose illegal or improper government activity. Among other things, the bill would require intelligence agency heads to advise employees on how to make lawful disclosures of classified information without retribution.
“Whistleblowers are crucial in helping to expose waste, fraud, abuse,
mismanagement and criminal activity across the Federal government,” the
May 30 House Committee report
stated. “Their disclosures can save billions of dollars, and even human
lives. It is vital that Congress encourage–not discourage–these
well-intentioned individuals from coming forward.”
The pending bill would bolster the comparatively flimsy provisions of
the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act. Establishing
improved channels for lawful disclosures of illegal activity could serve
to diminish incentives for unauthorized disclosures of classified
information, the Committee suggested.
“These modifications are intended to reduce the often destructive
disclosures that occur through anonymous leaks by providing an
alternative in which institutional channels can be used by
whistleblowers assured of certain safeguards,” the report said.
The House Committee did not approve a provision that would have
allowed whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation for their actions
to request a jury trial.
Last month, the Senate passed its version of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act by unanimous consent.
“Approximately 450 whistleblower cases and around 2,000 complaints
about prohibited personnel practices (including engaging in reprisals
against whistleblowers) are filed against the federal government each
year,” according to a Senate report on the bill.