Bipartisan Bill to Reform FBI Whistleblower Protections

Bill will significantly enhance agency’s ability to detect and combat terrorists threats

Published on December 11, 2015

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Bipartisan Bill to Reform FBI Whistleblower Protections

Washington, D.C. December 11, 2015.  Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill to reform and enhance protections for FBI whistleblowers.

The bill will significantly strengthen FBI whistleblower protections including providing compensatory damages for whistleblowers, expanding the scope of protected activity, ending bureaucratic delays in processing FBI whistleblower cases, and allowing for review of case by independent administrative law judges.

The need for reform was documented in a January 2015 report issued by the Government Accountability Office which detailed the FBI’s consistent failure to protect whistleblowers within the Bureau as well as lengthy delays and severe shortcomings in the Department of Justice’s enforcement of whistleblower protections. Following the report, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on March 4th, 2015 to examine the deficiencies in the whistleblower protections at the FBI.

This hearing was well attended and Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center (NWC), was among the witnesses who testified. The Judiciary Committee adopted many of the NWC’s recommendations for reforming FBI whistleblower protections in the new bill.

Commenting on the introduction of the new bill, Stephen M. Kohn stated:

“Given the rising terrorist threat and the FBI’s critical role in protecting the American people, this is the most important whistleblower reform introduced this session. This legislation runs the gamut, from protecting whistleblowers in the FBI who expose deficiencies in the counterterrorism program, to the overreach of surveillance programs, and to bigotry and civil rights abuses within the bureau.”

Co-Chair of the National Whistleblower Center and Veteran FBI Whistleblower, Dr. Fred Whitehurst commented:

“We cannot say strongly enough that our national security depends on protecting these FBI whistleblowers from those who would retaliate against them for reporting malfeasance and misconduct, upholding their oath of office, and obeying executive orders and written FBI policies.”

Related Links:

Stephen M. Kohn’s Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee

GAO Report on FBI Whistleblowers

Video of Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

Collected Testimony of the Witnesses before the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

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