In the past year, whistleblowers have exposed abuse of migrants in detention centers, risks to food safety, the President’s efforts to pressure Ukraine to announce an investigation into a political rival, and problems with the government’s response to the coronavirus. Whistleblowers are essential to a functional and informed democracy and an accountable government, but they don’t have the protection they deserve.
The current law that protects the rights of federal employees to disclose waste, fraud, abuse and threats to public health and safety is dangerously weak. Federal employees are vulnerable to retaliation at a time when the public needs information provided by whistleblowers more than ever.
Congress passed the landmark Whistleblower Protection Act in 1978 and updated the law through the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) in 2012. But critical reforms are needed to make whistleblower protection a reality.
An updated WPEA must:
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act will continue to be a source of false hope until it is strong enough to enforce its mandate. Only when these reforms are made will we ensure those who defend the public have a fair chance to defend themselves.
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