WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has written to 15 government agencies, reminding them of recently enacted whistleblower protections and seeking information on their compliance with the new law.
“Whistleblowers risk their careers to point out government waste, fraud and abuse,” Grassley said. “Without them, the public wouldn’t know about a lot of problems that had to be exposed to get fixed. Our government would be the weaker for it. Protections for whistleblower communications with Congress and agency watchdogs are critical for whistleblowers’ good work to continue.”
Grassley wrote to the major executive branch agencies about the recently enacted Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which codified an “anti-gag” provision he introduced every year. The provision makes explicit that agency nondisclosure agreements do not apply to communications with Congress or reporting violations and/or misconduct to an Inspector General, or any other whistleblower protection. Agency nondisclosure agreements must include specific disclaimers to that effect, and those disclaimers must be posted on agency websites.
Grassley asked each agency for information including all forms, policies, or agreements mentioning communications with Congress used within the last five years and a detailed statement of the various efforts taken to post the “anti-gag” provision on the agency website.
Grassley wrote to the Department of State, Department of the Treasury, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Transportation, Department of Energy, Department of Education, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Homeland Security.
Grassley is a long-time advocate for whistleblowers. He was the Senate author of the 1986 whistleblower updates to the federal False Claims Act. Since 1986, these provisions have recovered more than $30 billion that otherwise would be lost to fraud.
The text of Grassley’s letter is available here. The text is the same for each of the 15 agencies.