WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLNS) –U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chairperson of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), has introduced new bipartisan legislation to protect whistleblowers–specifically, for employees of government contractors.
The Expanding Whistleblower Protections for Contractors Act “would close loopholes in federal policy in order to expand whistleblower protections for federal contractors and grantees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse,” according to an official statement from Peters’ office in HSGAC.
“Whistleblowers play a critical role in exposing wrongdoing and holding the government accountable,” Peters said in the statement.
A whistleblower is an employee or other person who discloses information about illegal, unethical or fraudulent activity within an organization, often facing a threat of severe retaliation.
“Together this will help assure potential whistleblowers that they can raise concerns without fear of retaliation and help make sure that government is working effectively for taxpayers,” Peters continued.
The bill makes clear that an employee’s whistleblower protections can no longer be waived by a nondisclosure agreement or any other condition of employment.
In addition, the new legislation would protect the employees’ right to refuse to perform an action that they believe to be illegal, without threat of retaliation from the organization.
The bill would also clarify that officials of the executive branch don’t have the authority to request that contractors retaliate against whistleblowers. The new policy would allow agencies to take disciplinary action against officials for doing so.
“A lack of clarity in whistleblower protection laws have raised questions about whether whistleblowers who work for federal contractors are effectively safeguarded from acts of reprisal from federal officials,” said the statement from Peters’ office.
“In some instances, these loopholes have allowed federal officials to retaliate against whistleblowers with no accountability,” the statement continued.