Senate lawmakers have introduced bipartisan legislation that could significantly boost protections for whistleblowers within federal contractors if it passes into law.
Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Mike Braun, R-Ind., have co-sponsored the bill, which could close existing loopholes in protections that lawmakers say allow federal officials to retaliate against whistleblowers with no subsequent accountability.
The role of whistleblowers in helping to curtail waste, fraud and abuse in federal contracting has come into focus in recent months with the Department of Justice’s enforcement push as part of the Civil Cyber Fraud Initiative. As part of that program, the DOJ has focused on using the Civil War-era False Claims Act to protect whistleblowers who disclose cybersecurity failures at contractors.
The proposed legislation is the latest in a line of policy initiatives to address these concerns. In 2017, a Government Accountability Office study made specific recommendations on this issue to four government agencies, including that a specific whistleblowing clause be introduced to federal agency contracts larger than $150,000.
Commenting on the bill, Sen. Peters said: “This bipartisan legislation strengthens protections for individuals who blow the whistle on waste or fraud in federal contracts and improves accountability for federal officials who retaliate against them. Together this will help assure potential whistleblowers that they can raise concerns without fear of retaliation and help make sure that government is working effectively for taxpayers.”
Sen. Braun added: “Whistleblowers who expose corruption at any level are courageous individuals, and should not have to fear for their safety or any sort of retaliation. I’m proud to join this bipartisan bill that bolsters protections for federal contractors and encourages brave men and women to blow the whistle when they witness misconduct.”