WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee
Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have
introduced bipartisan legislation to further protect whistleblowers at the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from retaliation. The FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act
would allow FBI employees to appeal retaliation claims to the Merit Systems
Protection Board (MSPB) – a board already utilized by several other federal law
enforcement agencies to ensure whistleblowers have the right to a fair,
“With transparency comes accountability,
and it’s clear both are sorely needed at the FBI. From my years of working with
whistleblowers, I know the number one concern among those who decide to come
forward is retaliation, which could destroy their careers. Our whistleblower
protection enhancement bill takes a commonsense approach to fixing this
problem, utilizing an effective system that’s already in place for other law
enforcement agencies. I appreciate Chairman Durbin for joining me on this
important effort,” Grassley said.
"Whistleblowers bravely step forward
to report when agencies like the FBI are skirting accountability. But if we
want to ensure that whistleblowers can come forward, we must shield them from
retaliation. My legislation with Ranking Member Grassley, the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act,
will improve protections for those who report wrongdoing at the FBI and, in
turn, increase transparency and accountability within our government," Durbin said.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), a member
of the House Intelligence Committee, was able to get this provision included in
the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House earlier
“The reason whistleblowers are able to
blow the whistle — and protect taxpayers’ money — is because they know they’re
protected from payback and bullying from their superiors. The fact that FBI
employees don’t have whistleblower protection means they’re unable to report
waste, fraud, and abuse. FBI employees must be treated like every other federal
employee,” Speier said. “This legislation will ensure that happens and
I’m pleased that I was able to get this essential reform included in the
House-passed National Defense Authorization Act, and will fight for it
to remain in the final conference agreement.”
Currently, the FBI handles all
whistleblower reports internally. This increases the likelihood of
whistleblower retaliation within the FBI, which deters employees from coming
forward and prevents Congress from uncovering waste, fraud and abuse. This
ultimately hurts taxpayers by hamstringing government transparency and
Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act would help restore justice and
accountability at the FBI by granting whistleblowers the right to take their
case to the MSPB. The MSPB is currently utilized by the U.S. Secret Service,
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Marshals and the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to handle whistleblower activity,
including cases that involve sensitive matters.
Specifically, this legislation:
- Maintains the
FBI’s internal adjudication process for all initial claims but grants employees
the ability to appeal determinations or adverse actions to the MSPB.
- Prevents the FBI
from using delay tactics to punish whistleblowers by introducing a kick-out
provision. After 180 days, if the FBI has not made a final determination or
corrective action order, employees can take their case directly to the MSPB.
accountability at the FBI and guarantees that FBI whistleblowers are afforded
the same protections that nearly every other federal law enforcement agency in
the country enjoys.
Cosponsors of the proposal include Sens.
Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.).
A bill summary is available HERE