More whistleblowing in the halls of Congress and other news of the week.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, issued a statement this week in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA).
“We honor the contributions of the brave men and women who report wrongdoing despite great risks to their careers and personal lives as a result of retaliation. Without the WPA, very few whistleblowers would be willing to come forward. Congress relies on the WPA to fulfill its Constitutional duty to provide checks and balances on the Executive Branch—the very root of our democracy.”
He noted the role of whistleblowers in the Committee’s investigation into reports of White House efforts to transfer sensitive U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.
The Atlantic reported last week that “small army of whistle-blowers from across the government has been working in secret with the House Oversight Committee to report alleged malfeasance inside the Trump administration. Lawmakers and aides are reluctant to discuss information they have gleaned from anonymous government tipsters in detail. But the list of whistle-blowers who either currently or previously worked in the Trump administration, or who worked closely with the administration, numbers in the ‘dozens’,” according to an aide to Cummings, a Maryland Democrat.
NPR also reported on the anniversary of the WPA.
ROBERT MACLEAN: Everybody in my neighborhood and my family thought I was insane and I was fighting a futile fight.
…That’s how it felt for Robert MacLean, a federal air marshal who, in 2003, told the public that the TSA canceled air marshal coverage on long-haul flights to cover budget shortfalls.
EU to vote on Whistle blower protection
On April 16, the European Parliament will vote on a provisional rule that will allow whistleblowers to report wrongdoing to outside authorities before reporting to their employers’ internal review program. Action on the directive had been stalled over the reporting issue. Several member countries wanted to require employees to report potential crimes and fraud internally before going to regulators and law enforcement. Transparency and anti-corruption activists believe that approach make it harder for individuals to come forward with information about wrongdoing.
Waiting forever for IRS Whistleblower awards
The IRS released an update to its Whistleblower Process Timeline this week that revealed it can take more than 10 years for a whistleblower to receive a financial reward. Stephen M. Kohn, who is chairman of the National Whistleblower Center, issued a statement noting that the delays reflect the programs’ lack of resources. He points out that the IRS reported that 23 whistleblowers died during 2018 waiting for decisions on their reward claims. The IRS whistleblower “shall” “receive as an award at least 15 percent but not more than 30 percent of the proceeds collected as a result of the action
He also notes that the number of staff at the IRS Whistleblower Office declined from 61 staff to 36 since 2016. At the same time whistleblowers filed 12,000 reward claims in 2018, bringing the number of open cases to over 29,000, Kohn notes.