Federal Employees Still Denied Coverage
Washington, D.C. February 13, 2009. In the final stimulus package approved by House-Senate conference, Congress approved a critical whistleblower protection amendment introduced by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). The McCaskill amendment corrected major defects in the original Senate Bill, and provides protections for private contractors and state and local government workers who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse in stimulus spending.
Under the McCaskill Amendment, state and local government workers and private contractors who expose corruption in stimulus spending are fully protected. If fired in retaliation for exposing wrongdoing they can obtain: reinstatement, back pay and compensatory damages. They can also present their claims in federal court and seek a jury trial. The law protects internal whistleblowing to supervisors, and prevents companies from misusing employment agreements to stifle employee disclosures. Coverage of the McCaskill Amendment is attached here.
The House and Senate did not reach agreement to protect federal employee whistleblowers. Federal employees obtained no protection whatsoever in the Stimulus Bill.
“Congress has started to listen. The public must redouble its efforts and obtain universal whistleblower protection coverage for all American workers who blow the whistle on any abusive spending or corruption concerning taxpayer dollars. The law must ensure strict oversight and accountability, starting with protecting all workers who witness fraud and report it to the proper authorities,” said Michael Kohn, General Counsel of the National Whistleblower Center and an attorney for Bunnatine (Bunny) Greenhouse.
Bunny Greenhouse is a former top Army Corps of Engineers contracts manager, and was the only high-level government official who opposed the no-bid multi-billion dollar contract awarded to Halliburton/KBR for the “Reconstruction of Iraq.” Greenhouse’s opposition to that contract was fully vindicated. This month Halliburton/KBR agreed to pay over $500 million dollars after admitting to bribing officials in Iraq.
Greenhouse had issued a strong public statement endorsing both the McCaskill Amendment and the Platts-Van Hollen Amendment (covering federal employees). Today, she has issued another appeal urging Congress to act quickly to fix the loophole in coverage and enact full coverage for federal employees.