A diverse coalition of 112 religious, scientific, consumer, civil liberties, environmental, and other organizations sent a letter (pdf) to U.S. Senate and House negotiators urging them “to agree to the strongest possible federal employee whistleblower protections and to deliver a bill this year to President Bush.” The coalition was led by the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Public Citizen, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Last year, both chambers passed different versions of whistleblower rights legislation, but lawmakers from the House and Senate have been working for months to negotiate a final bill. The coalition letter said:
We stand ready to provide any information that would help expedite the process, and to help you come to agreement on any unresolved issues. Any compromise should protect several critical provisions, which have already passed with overwhelming support. It is crucial that the final bill:
• Grant employees the right to a jury trial in federal court;
• Specifically protect federal scientists who report efforts to alter, misrepresent, or suppress federal research;
• Extend meaningful protections to FBI and intelligence agency whistleblowers;
• Strengthen protections for federal contractors, as strong as those provided to DoD contractors and grantees in last year’s defense authorization legislation;
• Extend meaningful protections to Transportation Security Officers (screeners);
• Neutralize the government’s use of the “state secrets” privilege;
• Bar the MSPB from ruling for an agency before whistleblowers have the opportunity to present evidence of retaliation;
• Provide whistleblowers the right to be made whole, including compensatory damages;
• Grant comparable due process rights to employees who blow the whistle in the course of a government investigation or who refuse to violate the law; and
• Remove the Federal Circuit’s monopoly on precedent-setting cases.