Founded in 2010

News & Entertainment for Mason City, Clear Lake & the Entire North Iowa Region

Watchdogs and Whistleblowers Protect the Public’s Right to Know

Younger generations of Americans are growing up with information technology that puts the world at their fingertips. Google and GPS have become modern day must-haves.|Younger generations of Americans are growing up with information technology that puts the world at their fingertips. Google and GPS have become modern day must-haves.

The fast-paced evolution to a digital era has changed the way consumers shop, socialize and search for information, including government services and public records. Making government more transparent, accessible, efficient and accountable will strengthen our system of self-government. The cornerstone of our republic is cemented in a timeless, profound principle advanced by James Madison, widely regarded as the father of the Constitution. Government gets its limited powers by “consent of the governed.”

In the United States Senate, I have long championed the public’s right to know by strengthening and reforming sunshine laws. My work includes oversight and enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, and measures to protect watchdogs and whistleblowers. Every year, a coalition group of whistleblowers and advocates for greater openness draws attention to these important issues with Sunshine Week.

Guided by the belief that an informed citizenry serves the public good, I successfully worked two decades ago to pull back the cloak of secrecy on thousands of pages of documents sought by Vietnam veterans and their survivors. As chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging in the late 1990s, I led a campaign to expose the federal government’s shortcomings in enforcing the quality of care and patient safety at nursing homes where billions of tax dollars are used to provide care for the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. In the last Congress, legislation I sponsored was enacted that will require makers of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and biologics to publicly disclose payments they make to doctors. It’s a transparency effort intended to enhance accountability, especially in medical research.

Most recently, I am closely tracking health care fraud and have called for greater disclosure and oversight of where Medicare and Medicaid dollars are spent to curb fraud and overpayments. The federal government spent $502 billion on Medicare and $379 billion on Medicaid in fiscal year 2009. From that, it is estimated between $40 billion and $70 billion was lost to fraud.
As keepers of the federal purse strings, elected members of Congress have a duty to protect the integrity of each tax dollar appropriated and to protect the taxpaying public. Strengthening fraud-fighting tools, requiring a more transparent federal government, and demanding accountability for wrongdoers can help restore the public trust and our system of voluntary tax compliance.

Strengthening our system of checks and balances strengthens our system of representative government, ensuring the federal government works “for, of and by the people.” Whether I’m calling for accountability at the Pentagon or the Smithsonian (known as America’s Attic), or advocating for cameras to roll in the federal courts, I am working to spread as much sunshine as possible around all corners of the federal bureaucracy and federal judiciary. Right here in the U.S. Senate, my longstanding efforts to improve disclosure and sweep away anonymous holds at long last met with success. In January, the U.S. Senate banned the use of so-called secret holds to prevent unnamed lawmakers from stalling action on pending legislation and nominations.

Those of us who work to let the sun shine brightly on the people’s business know that we need all the eyes and ears we can get to ensure accountability and transparency.

Consider the good works of whistleblowers. Thanks to a bipartisan effort I led in the Senate in 1986 to update whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, a Civil War-era law aimed against war profiteering, the U.S. Treasury has recovered more than $28 billion for taxpayers. Today, I continue to safeguard and strengthen “Lincoln’s Law,” the federal government’s most effective tool against fraud.
The American public owes whistleblowers a tremendous debt of gratitude.
Private citizens and government employees who come forward with allegations of wrongdoing and cover-ups put their livelihoods on the line to expose misconduct. The public record shows how these courageous citizens are modern day patriots. They spread truth and let the sun shine in on mismanagement at the FBI, bad decisions at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and suppression of scientific dissent at the Food and Drug Administration.
Whistleblowers outside of government also can provide an invaluable public service by coming forward and bringing to light financial fraud to the Securities and Exchange Commission, for example.

The value of these whistleblowers is the reason I continue to challenge the bureaucracy and the Congress to support them. As one of them said so famously, whistleblowers “commit truth.”

Considering the $14 trillion national debt, unsustainable entitlement programs, rising energy prices and tenuous economic recovery, it’s more important than ever to spread sunshine throughout the federal government, 365 days a year.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Even more news:


Need help with your website?
Call your local professional,
Breakthrough Web Design:
or go to

Copyright 2022 – Internet Marketing Pros. of Iowa, Inc.
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
%d bloggers like this: