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Project on Government Oversight

Whistleblower Issues

Whistleblowers play a vital role in exposing corruption and other misconduct committed by the federal government and its contractors. The public relies on brave and honest employees to blow the whistle on wasteful spending, lax safety practices, dangerous products, and other abuses. Unfortunately, whistleblowers are almost always reprimanded, fired, and/or harassed, even if they have not “gone public” and even after their allegations are proven to be true. POGO’s investigations are aimed at helping whistleblowers achieve an open and accountable government while protecting them from intimidation and retaliation.  Click on the program areas below to learn more.

False Claims Act
The False Claims Act was originally passed in 1863 at the urging of President Abraham Lincoln to try to halt the Civil War profiteering that was crippling the Union Army.  Amendments to the Act in 1986, championed by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), increased the penalties for fraud and encouraged whistleblowers and private citizens to come forward if they were aware of corporations defrauding the government.  The False Claims Act has since served as a useful tool for fighting corruption and recouping taxpayer funds.

Office of Special Counsel
The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is responsible, among other things, for investigating retaliation against government whistleblowers.  Turning its mission on its head, the OSC is now retaliating against its own staff and closing up hundreds of pending cases.  POGO has called for the removal of Special Counsel Scott Bloch, who is currently the subject of investigations by the FBI, the Office of Personnel Management Inspector General, and the Justice Department.  POGO has also urged Congress to consider re-allocating the OSC's funding to a different federal agency that would be better equipped to investigate cases of retaliation against government whistleblowers.

Whistleblower Protections
Government and contractor employees help to protect the public’s interest every day by blowing the whistle on fraudulent contractors, safety violations, national security threats, defective consumer products, and more.  POGO is calling on Congress to pass strong whistleblower protections so that employees can expose waste, fraud, and abuse without fear of reprisals endangering their careers and their lives.