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Will lawmakers’ move to protect federal whistleblowers backfire?

Whistleblowers play an important role in the federal government. The tips given by these workers help hold those in power accountable. These workers can catch an abuse of the system, ideally while there is still time to rectify the problem. In exchange, the government and legal system is supposed to protect the worker from retaliation.

Does the system always work? Unfortunately, not. There are legal remedies for federal workers who hold their employers accountable and suffer retaliation, but lawmakers are reviewing the system and considering new measures.

What new measures? The Federal Times reports the Senate Intelligence Committee is attempting to make it easier for those who work within the intelligence community to report illegal behavior. Such reports are difficult, as a failure to follow proper protocol can result in a breach in security.

Due to the secretive nature of the information, even workers with validated reports of ethical violations or violations of the law would often find themselves demoted or ostracized in retaliation for coming forward. Workers were unlikely to go public as doing so could jeopardize the lives of their colleagues serving the country in the secret service and other intelligence agencies.

How do we solve this problem? According to a national security analyst for the Government Accountability Project, lawmakers should provide a measure that will result in internal channels to help better “ensure whistleblowers are safe from reprisal.” The new proposal may help to provide this channel. The new measure would provide those who feel they are the subject of retaliation with a list of approved methods to move forward with additional appeals.

The bill is currently up for vote in the Senate. If the Senate approves the proposal, it will move on to the House for further review.

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