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house Bill H.R. 69

Does the Agency Protecting Federal Whistleblowers Need to be Reauthorized?

Argument in favor

Waste and abuse will always plague the federal government unless whistleblowers are empowered to speak up and protected when they do, so this bill to reauthorize the entity that protects them must pass.

Loraki's Opinion
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01/04/2017
ABSOLUTELY!! Power corrupts; that's a fact of life. Whistleblowers shed light on corruption and often put their lives at risk in doing so. They should be protected from retaliation!
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Fran's Opinion
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01/06/2017
I think this law is more critical then ever. This upcoming administration is headed by people who do not feel that laws apply to them.
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Leo's Opinion
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01/04/2017
Not only should this be reauthorized, it should be expanded.
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Argument opposed

There is no doubt that whistleblowers should be protected from retaliation, but this bill creates additional burdens for agencies being investigated for improper actions against whistleblowers by the Office of Special Counsel.

TuckerWantsLiberty's Opinion
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01/04/2017
I support whistleblowers, and I support supporting whistleblowers. But this agency? Fat lot of good they've done for Manning and Snowden. It's this agency's alleged purpose to protect whistleblowers, and look how poorly they did it. No, they don't deserve funding. Whistleblowers should absolutely be protected. The government clearly doesn't want them protected, though. They just want to create an agency that lures them out into the open where they can be punished and shamed for their "disloyalty" and for "not using the proper channels". This agency hasn't proven themselves to be worth funding.
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Mary's Opinion
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01/05/2017
Back up existing laws before you start creating new ones.
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Brett's Opinion
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01/07/2017
I hate to say it, but throwing more money at a sinkhole will not guarantee its fixing. Should whistleblowers be protected? Absolutely. Have they been (especially in the federal field of play)? Absolutely not. Through the use of federal marketing buzzwords such as "traitor" and "threat to national security", this agency essentially brands whistleblowers as enemies of the state, rather than offering them the necessary protections. This agency dedicated to the protection of whistleblowers has given us no sign that it has the ability or will to do so. As stated, throwing more money at them does not ensure a change in their practices.
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What is House Bill H.R. 69?

This bill would reauthorize the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) — which is responsible for protecting current, former, and prospective federal employees from retaliation for whistleblowing — through fiscal year 2020. Whistleblowers report abuse, illegal activity, mismanagement of funds, or other prohibited practices within the government and have at times faced retaliation for their efforts, with some being forced out of their jobs.

The OSC’s process for investigating whistleblower complaints would be reformed to make it easier for it to collect evidence from agencies that are withholding information and documents from investigations. Rather than only having 15 days to review a complaint, the OSC could spend 45 days in review and require an agency being investigated to explain why it hadn’t taken action to address a problem reported by the OSC.

To ensure that the OSC isn’t bogged down by repeated complaints, the agency could end an investigation if it has previously been informed of an allegation by the same person, if it doesn’t have jurisdiction, or if the person should have known more than three years before the OSC was alerted.

Impact

Whistleblowers, whether they’re current, former, or prospective federal employees; federal agencies being investigated by the OSC; and the OSC.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 69

$106.00 Million
The CBO estimated during the previous Congress that implementing this bill would cost $106 million over the 2017-2021 period.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) introduced this bill to ensure that the OSC can continue to protect whistleblowers who report misconduct within the federal government:

“The [OSC] plays a key role in protecting federal employees who have the courage to blow the whistle on abuse and mismanagement in our government. As those employees who called attention to the mistreatment of veterans the the Veterans’ Affairs hospitals know first hand, the OSC is critically important to protect whistleblowers like them from potential retaliation from federal agencies.”

This legislation was passed unanimously by the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform and has the support of three cosponsors — including two Democrats and a Republican.


Of Note: The Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently settled with a whistleblower who faced serious retaliation as a result of his reporting that the VA was violating its own policy of assigning one employee to every suicidal veteran. The worker, Brandon Coleman, had created a successful suicide prevention program that was then eliminated by the VA after he disclosed the VA’s misconduct.



Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user ell brown)

AKA

Thoroughly Investigating Retaliation Against Whistleblowers Act

Official Title

To reauthorize the Office of Special Counsel, to amend title 5, United States Code, to provide modifications to authorities relating to the Office of Special Counsel, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
  • The house Passed January 4th, 2017
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2017

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    ABSOLUTELY!! Power corrupts; that's a fact of life. Whistleblowers shed light on corruption and often put their lives at risk in doing so. They should be protected from retaliation!
    Like (91)
    Follow
    Share
    I support whistleblowers, and I support supporting whistleblowers. But this agency? Fat lot of good they've done for Manning and Snowden. It's this agency's alleged purpose to protect whistleblowers, and look how poorly they did it. No, they don't deserve funding. Whistleblowers should absolutely be protected. The government clearly doesn't want them protected, though. They just want to create an agency that lures them out into the open where they can be punished and shamed for their "disloyalty" and for "not using the proper channels". This agency hasn't proven themselves to be worth funding.
    Like (31)
    Follow
    Share
    I think this law is more critical then ever. This upcoming administration is headed by people who do not feel that laws apply to them.
    Like (21)
    Follow
    Share
    Back up existing laws before you start creating new ones.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    I hate to say it, but throwing more money at a sinkhole will not guarantee its fixing. Should whistleblowers be protected? Absolutely. Have they been (especially in the federal field of play)? Absolutely not. Through the use of federal marketing buzzwords such as "traitor" and "threat to national security", this agency essentially brands whistleblowers as enemies of the state, rather than offering them the necessary protections. This agency dedicated to the protection of whistleblowers has given us no sign that it has the ability or will to do so. As stated, throwing more money at them does not ensure a change in their practices.
    Like (14)
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    Share
    Not only should this be reauthorized, it should be expanded.
    Like (13)
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    If government employees don't feel safe enough to speak their minds when they see something wrong happening then we lose our first line of defense against corruption and mismanagement.
    Like (11)
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    Whistleblowers benefit the people at great personal risk. Protect them!
    Like (8)
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    Whistleblowers play an essential role in ensuring the transparency and integrity of federal operations. Especially in today's climate of weak investigative journalism.
    Like (8)
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    Whistleblowers are doing more to help this country than you are, congress
    Like (7)
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    Many employees-and I'm being kind, seem to believe they are one or all of the "blind, mute or deaf" monkeys on the payroll. Speak no evil, hear no evil and see no evil. Therefore we have graft and coverups. We sure hear transparency from our elected officials, but often witness a closed door policy. Let's open the door and drawn curtains back to expose the monkeys with the sunlight of exposure.
    Like (7)
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    Absolutely- telling the truth should always be rewarded
    Like (7)
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    This independent investigational arm of our government also protects the rehiring practices of both civilian & former military personnel as well as investigating Hatch Act violations. Thankfully there are also built-in procedures to prevent this agency from being overwhelmed by frivolous or duplicate reports.
    Like (6)
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    Whistleblowers have suffered very badly over the last eight years of the Obama Administration. While the liberals are not able to block policies and legislation, congress needs to strengthen and make permanent the protections for whistleblowers.
    Like (5)
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    If Republicans have a mandate, which I doubt, but no matter, and Donald Trump is there to "drain the swamp" ethics boards and whistle blower protections are an important part of that.
    Like (5)
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    After Congress embarrassed the nation by trying to sneak by a Bill gutting the OCE, we need accountability more now than ever. Ensuring get that "Whistle-Blowers" are protected under the law, is imperative.
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    This is a straightforward protection for those who choose to risk their lives uncovering corporate injustices.
    Like (5)
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    There needs to be transparency and accountability in our institutions in order for them to reflect your constitutional values. I sincerely hope that my elected officials will vote to re-authorize these protections.
    Like (4)
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    Much reform is needed in the area of federal employee harassment and whistleblowing. The offices are operating to meet compliance, not end misconduct and harassment. It's upside down.
    Like (4)
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    I agree that whistle-blowers need protection, but i have also seen this agency abuse their power. Right now they have no oversight and there is no recourse or appeal of their "findings". Their process is cloaked in secrecy amd if you are falsely accused, you have no due process or rights at all during their investigation or afterwards in appealing their findings. Very kgb-like in my opinion. Absolutely should be reauthorized but with reform to include structured due process for the accused and transparent appeal process.
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