By Daphne Eviatar 2/11/09
Despite a strong push from whistleblower advocates, the final stimulus bill appears not to include protections for federal employees who call attention to waste, fraud and abuse of stimulus money. It’s an odd outcome, given that federal employees are often the first people to notice fraud and other abuses by government contractors, as exhibited in many of the House oversight hearings on the subject over the past few years. (Remember Bunnatine Greenhouse, who lost her job after blowing the whistle on the no-bid contracts for Halliburton?)
As the Project on Government Oversight put it in a statement this afternoon: “Accountability got mugged today when congressional leaders stripped federal whistleblower protections from their compromise ‘stimulus’ bill.” POGO pledged to keep fighting the good fight.
As I wrote earlier, the two major whistleblower protections that were missing from the Senate bill were protections for federal employees who reported wrongdoing to the government, and protections for government contractor employees who reported wrongdoing to their supervisors. Although we haven’t seen the exact language yet, early rumors have it that the provisions of Sen. Claire McCaskill’s (D-Mo.) amendment adding protections for government contractor employees were included in the final language.
The sticking point on the federal workers may be, as I explained before, the strong opposition from Republicans to providing whistleblower protection to intelligence employees.