Key Privacy Protections Improperly Challenged
Washington, D.C. January 15, 2009. The National Whistleblowers Center strongly opposes the lawsuit filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Government Accountability Project, and OMB Watch concerning the constitutionality of the sealing provisions of the False Claims Act.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The President of the National Whistleblower Center, Stephen M. Kohn, issued the following statement:
“The sealing provisions are essential in order to permit the government to properly investigate wrongdoing and protect the whistleblower. Allowing employee whistleblowers to file a case under “seal” can protect a whistleblower from retaliation. Whistleblowers need the seal to allow them to bring their concerns confidentially to the government. Employees with information that their employer has engaged in fraud would be less likely to file a lawsuit if their identity would be revealed to the employer.”
“The fact that there are currently 1000 False Claims Act cases under “seal” is not a question of constitutional law. It is a political question. If the Justice Department does not have the resources to conduct timely investigations, the plaintiffs should insist that more resources are committed to the False Claims Act unit of the Justice Department. Under the law, a seal is required for only sixty days and can only be extended for good cause.”
“If a whistleblower believes that the government is improperly keeping their concerns from the American people, they can simply inform the Court of this fact, and request that the seal be lifted.”
“Denying whistleblowers essential privacy protections contained in the False Claims Act, simply because the Justice Department lacks resources to investigate these cases in a timely manner, will do more harm than good.”
“The lawsuit should be withdrawn.”