Co-Chair of the bipartisan Whistleblowers Caucus Congressman Rod Blum (IA-01) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) have introduced a bill to permanently extend the program requiring each inspector general office to have a dedicated official focused on empowering and educating whistleblowers.
Under this new legislation, the Whistleblower Protection Extension Act, each inspector general office will have a designated “Whistleblower Protection Coordinator” to educate potential whistleblowers on processes and their protections. This bill will also ensure inspectors general communicate with other stakeholders to improve efficiency and additional reporting is made to Congress to increase accountability.
“As Co-Chair of the House Whistleblower Caucus and as the original sponsor of H.R. 69, the Thoroughly Investigating Retaliation Against Whistleblowers Act, I am proud to continue leading the charge to protect whistleblowers by introducing a House companion bill to the new Senate legislation. The Whistleblower Ombudsman program provides the information necessary to ensure our federal employees are educated on their rights during the process of reporting waste, fraud, and abuse, and is critical to achieving greater transparency and efficiency in federal agencies,” Rep. Blum said.
Ranking Member Cummings added, "Inspectors General have the expertise to help agency employees when they blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse. The easier the process is for whistleblowers, the more likely they are to come forward and save the taxpayers money. In turn, when whistleblowers bring forward evidence of wrongdoing, the IGs and their staffs can investigate and root out waste and abuse."
Rep. Blum and Rep. Cummings worked closely with the Senate cosponsors, Chairman Grassley, Senator Wyden, Chairman Johnson, and Ranking Member McCaskill as they introduced the Senate companion to this bill on September 27, 2017, The Whistleblower Protection Coordination Act.
“It’s not always easy to figure out how to disclose waste, fraud or abuse in government when there are so many different rules governing different agencies. Empowering these Inspector General officials across the federal government will give whistleblowers a clear, confidential resource to make sure they are informed and equipped to lawfully carry out their patriotic duty to shine a light on inefficiencies or misconduct in government,” Senator Grassley said.
“Whistleblowers are an essential part of uncovering waste, fraud and abuses of power,” Senator Wyden said. “This bill gives the government’s independent watchdogs—the inspectors general—the authority to help whistleblowers so these brave individuals can continue to speak out about wrongdoing in all levels of government.”
“Whistleblower allegations must be swiftly and efficiently investigated, and whistleblowers need to be informed and treated fairly during this process. I am hopeful this bill will facilitate greater coordination between investigative agencies to ensure whistleblower allegations are thoroughly examined and that whistleblowers are adequately protected,” Senator Johnson said.
“From identifying unnecessary spending of taxpayer dollars to revealing problems with how the VA is serving veterans, whistleblowers are often the first to alert us to issues we need to fix,” Senator McCaskill said. “I’m glad to join with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make sure that all potential whistleblowers have someone to go to with questions and to know their rights—making it more likely they’ll come forward to expose waste, fraud, and abuse.”
Last week, Congressman Blum led the floor debate to pass S. 585, the Dr. Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017. This bill honored Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick, a 38-year old VA psychologist who committed suicide after being retaliated against for blowing the whistle on the overmedication of VA patients.
Rep. Blum and Ranking Member Cummings have led the charge on whistleblower issues through their leadership on the House Whistleblower Caucus and legislative efforts to protect whistleblowers and increase government transparency and efficiency. The Whistleblower Protection Extension Act continues these efforts with bipartisan, common sense legislation to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.
Video of Congressman Blum Speaking in Support of S. 585 can be found here.
Rod Blum is the Republican Congressman from Iowa’s 1st District.
He is a member of the Oversight and Small Business Committees and chair of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade.