WASHINGTON, D.C. | January 27, 2020 — Tomorrow, the National Whistleblower Center’s General Counsel, David Colapinto, will testify before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations regarding the critical need for strengthened protections of federal whistleblowers. The hearing is entitled “Protecting Those Who Blow the Whistle on Government Wrongdoing” and begins at 2:00PM in Room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Large bipartisan majorities have long agreed that whistleblowers are essential for exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government. The controversy over the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower has led to confusion about the extent to which confidentiality is offered to federal employees under existing laws.
Colapinto will explain the key features of the laws that encourage and protect whistleblowers, and their shortcomings. He will also make recommendations for bipartisan reform.
In his testimony, Colapinto will highlight the need for:
- Stronger assurances that a federal whistleblower may report wrongdoing confidentially;
- Ability of federal employees to recover damages when they suffer from Privacy Act violations;
- Access for federal whistleblowers to the courts and a jury of their peers after administrative remedies have been exhausted; and
- A change in the culture towards whistleblowing in the federal government.
Colapinto’s testimony is supported by the findings of a new NWC report showing that for the subset of whistleblowers already provided by law with access to federal court and a jury trial, such access has been invaluable. The report shows that providing such access to all federal employee whistleblowers would greatly improve whistleblower programs without burdening the courts.
According to Colapinto, “there are two essential elements for any anti-retaliation whistleblower law to be effective: employees must be encouraged to freely blow the whistle, without fear of reprisal; and there must be strong remedies for unlawful retaliation. Unfortunately, creating an effective system to encourage whistleblowing in the federal government has been a challenge and past reform has fallen short.”
David Colapinto is a co-founder and General Counsel of NWC and partner at Kohn, Kohn, & Colapinto, a leading whistleblower firm in Washington, DC. He has long experience representing federal whistleblowers, including Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, who blew the whistle on abuses at the FBI crime lab that were sending innocent people to jail, and Linda Tripp, who suffered from the illegal release to the public of her personnel files during the Lewinsky scandal in the 1990s. Colapinto specializes in qui tam, False Claims Act, and Dodd-Frank whistleblower protection.
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