Beefing up whistleblower protection for feds

Friday - 5/15/2009, 8:05am EDT

WFED's Max Cacas

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By Max Cacas
FederalNewsRadio


The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is considering legislation designed to strengthen existing federal whistleblower protections.

House bill 1507, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009, builds on two previous versions of whistleblower protection that passed the House twice, but stalled in the Senate because of Bush White House opposition.

HR 1507 not only addresses key civil service reforms to protect federal whistleblowers, but also includes new provisions designed to protect whistleblowers in the intelligence community, and go beyond the limits of the Intelligence Community Whistleblowers Protection Act of 1998.

The committee heard from several feds, only one of whom still has his job, about such instances that touched their lives and careers.

  • Bunnatine Greenhouse is a former procurement officer with the U.S, Army Corps of Engineers who suffered career retaliation because she blew the whistle on fraud related to the Iraq War.

  • Franz Gayl is a civilian science and technology advisor to the Deputy Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. He suffered retaliation for blowing the whistle on delays, often fatal, in the shipment of key weapons systems to troops in Iraq, including the M-RAP, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. Gayl says he expects even more retribution from his bosses for his congressional testimony yesterday.

  • One of the most highly publicized cases is that of Theresa Chambers, who today serves as police chief in the Prince Georges County town of Riverdale, Md. but five years ago was chief of the U.S. Park Police. She was suspended, and eventually dismissed by Interior Department officials for her official reponse to a Washington Post reporter who had obtained documents related to the effect of staffing shortages in the force.

Chambers hopes approval of HR 1507 will help protect future federal whistleblowers from her experience in workplace retaliation.

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On the Web:

House - Oversight and Government Reform Committee

Library of Congress - thomas.loc.gov (search for HR 1507)

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