House committee passes workforce reduction, whistleblower bills

Thursday - 11/3/2011, 6:21pm EDT

By Michael O'Connell
Web Editor
Federal News Radio

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed a bill on Thursday, Nov. 3, that aims to cut the federal workforce by 10 percent over the next three years.

Sponsored by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), H.R. 3029, Reducing the Size of the Federal Government Through Attrition Act of 2011, calls on the White House Office of Management and Budget to put in place a 10 percent reduction in the federal civilian workforce by Sept. 30, 2014. This would require agencies to replace not more than one of every three employees who are retiring or otherwise separating from government service. The proposal is projected to save taxpayers $139 billion over 10 years.

The bill passed on a 23-14 bipartisan vote.

Also on Thursday, the committee passed H.R. 3289, The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2011, on a unanimous roll call vote of 35-0. The bill expands the types of disclosures that are protected whistleblower disclosures under federal law.

If enacted, the law would extend whistleblower protection rights to airport baggage screeners; set up safe and legal ways for intelligence community whistleblowers to expose waste, fraud and abuse at intelligence agencies; establish legal protection for scientific freedom; set up an anti-gag statute to neutralize poorly defined classification security labels like "classifiable," "sensitive but unclassified" and "sensitive security information;" and maintain consistency with other remedial employment laws.

In addition, the law would strengthen the Office of Special Counsel's ability to take action against those who retaliate, and, in support of whistleblower rights cases that are appealed from the administrative level, provide the ability to file friend of the court briefs. The law would also establish a pilot program extending whistleblower protection to non-defense contractors.

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