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Project on Government Oversight
 

 

 

 

Whistleblower Protections Included on Homeland Security Bill

July 12, 2002 

 

Last night its markup of the Homeland Security Act, the House Government Reform Committee approved a modified version of the Paul Revere Freedom to Warn Act (H.R. 3806).

The approved provision provides federal employees and federal contractors who blow the whistle to Congress the right to a legal remedy if they suffer retaliation such as the loss of their job or demotion. Under the provision, all federal contractors and employees would have the right to a civil trial by jury in federal court.

The Committee also restored Title V civil service protections including administrative remedies for whistleblowers that had been denied to the Department of Homeland Security employees under provision 730 of the Homeland Security Act. The approval of the modified Paul Revere Freedom to Warn Act takes whistleblower protections one step further - extending protections to federal contractors and allowing private legal actions to be taken rather than going through the often cumbersome and ineffective administrative process.

Representative Dennis Kucinich led the fight for expanded whistleblower protections in the markup last night. The fuller version of the Paul Revere Freedom to Warn Act, H.R. 3806, was sponsored by Representative Steve Israel and co-sponsored by Government Reform Committee members Representatives Connie Morella and Benjamin Gilman.

"We owe whistleblowers who expose national security weaknesses and other failings of their agencies a fair day in court. All too often embarrassed bosses fire, demote, or harass these individuals who have courageously come forward," said Beth Daley, Director of Communication.

Government Accountability Project (http://www.whistleblower.org) has been leading the effort to persuade Congress to overturn the Bush Administration's proposal to deny whistleblower protections to Homeland Security employees. Project On Government Oversight (POGO), National Taxpayers Union and others have supported the effort.

Several modifications were made to H.R. 3806 before being proposed for the Homeland Security Act including the elimination of punitive damages and the scaling back of coverage for all corporate employees to cover just federal contractors.

In February, an ideologically diverse coalition of groups held the Paul Revere Forum to highlight the dangers of failing to protect national security whistleblowers from retaliation. To learn more about the event, view the Washington Post article


Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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