President Barack Obama signed new whistleblower protections into law, the White House said Tuesday.
The law, known as the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (pdf), expands protections for federal workers who blow the whistle on misconduct, fraud and illegality.
It clarifies the scope of protected disclosures, tightens requirements for non-disclosure agreements, expands penalties for violating protections and adds to the staff of some federal agencies an ombudsman whose job will be to educate agency employees of their rights, a statement said.
The bill passed the Senate two weeks ago by unanimous consent after the House passed it in September during a pro-forma session.
“This is a small but meaningful step,” said Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, in a statement. “The bill contains important reforms, but federal employees still lack most of the basic rights available to whistleblowers in the private sector.”
Informants in the private sector who expose violations of securities law can receive between 10% and 30% of a penalty if it’s more than $1 million under a program created by the Dodd-Frank Act. The program received more than 3,000 tips in the past year.
“We hope that President Obama and Congress will continue their efforts to ensure federal employees are fully protected during the next Congress,” Kohn said.