Thanks to your support 2014 was a successful year working to advance the rights of whistleblowers at the National Whistleblower Center. As the year comes to an end, the NWC would like to take this opportunity to share with you the work we have accomplished with your support.
The NWC issued two major reports supporting whistleblowers in 2014.
The first, Saving America’s “Most important Tool to Uncover and Punish Fraud” was released July 30 in conjunction with an Action Alert. The report was the basis for written testimony from the NWC submitted at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the False Claims Act. At the hearing the report was also referenced by Senator Grassley.
The second major report, The Importance of Whistleblower Rewards in Combating International Corruption, endorsing whistleblower reward laws, was released December 9, in honor of International Anti Corruption Day. This report received worldwide media attention. This report endorsed establishment of effective whistleblower laws worldwide, and explained how international whistleblowers could use U.S. laws to obtain some protections. The report was widely disseminated internationally, and cited to in news articles published in India, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands and England.
In 2014, the National Whistleblower Center also filed the following important Amicus Briefs supporting whistleblowers, including:
- Amicus Brief before Supreme Court to ensure broad standing for whistleblowers to use the False Claims Act: Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter (case pending).
- Amicus Brief before the Department of Labor Administrative Review Board urging a pro-whistleblower standard of proof: Powers v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, ARB Case No. 13-034
- Amicus Brief on right of whistleblowers to keep fraud reports to DOJ confidential under the False Claims Act.Kalyanaram v. New York Institute of Technology (joined others in the brief);
- Victory in Supreme Court: The Supreme Court upheld the right of whistleblowers to be protected when providing testimony to a Grand Jury. NWC filed amicus brief in case of Lane v. Franks. This brief was written and filed in 2014, and the Supreme Court ruled for the whistleblower at the end of the term.
2014 also witnessed another major victory before the Supreme Court, when the Court ruled in favor of the whistleblower in the Lawson v. FMR, LLC, case. This case significantly increased the scope of coverage under the major corporate whistleblower protection law, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
The NWC’s Forensic Justice Project continued to make progress resulting in the release of innocent people from prison based on reviews triggered by the work of Dr. Frederic Whitehurst. The FJP was also featured in a number of news items and television programs. The NWC issued Action Alerts calling upon Congress to investigate gag orders corporations have been forcing their employees to sign in order to cover up misconduct.
The NWC’s efforts triggered a page-one Washington Post story about such gag orders, and triggered a House-Democrat investigation into KBR’s use of non-disclosure agreements. Thanks in large part to the success of the Action Alert program, Congress listened to our concerns and on November 20, 2014 members of Congress called on KBR CEO Stuart Bradie to come forward with information about the company’s non-disclosure practices on government contracting matters. A wider investigation is ongoing.
In June, the NWC filed an extensive rulemaking comment regarding the rights of whistleblowers to obtain IRS whistleblower rewards if they turn in evidence of criminal tax law violations. This is the most important issue facing the IRS program, and will be a continued area of focus for the NWC until the legal issues are resolved.
A highlight of the year was National Whistleblower Appreciation Day on July 30. Once again, with the help of the NWC Action Alert Network, the United States Senate declared July 30 National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. On this day the NWC sponsored a luncheon held in conjunction the 2014 Whistleblower Summit in Washington.
NWC Executive Director, Stephen M. Kohn, gave a powerful speech about the history of whistleblowing and the importance of honoring whistleblowers on National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. On this occasion several whistleblowers were awarded for their bravery in speaking truth to power.
Help us continue our work! When you make a donation of $25 or more to support the National Whistleblower Center you will receive a copy of The Whistleblower’s Handbook. If you already have a copy, give a copy to a friend, colleague or your local library. One of the most powerful gifts you can give is knowledge.