Bipartisan legislation (S-1869) offered in the Senate would strengthen the powers of agency IG offices in whistleblower disclosures and investigations and in educating federal employees regarding their protections.

The measure would make permanent a program requiring a dedicated official in each inspector general office focused on whistleblower protection issues and change the title of these officials from ombudsman to “whistleblower protection coordinator.” The ombudsman position was created by a 2012 whistleblower protection law was to give agency employees a confidential outlet to lawfully make disclosures.

Under the bill, that office further would be responsible for educating employees regarding how they may seek legal review of allegations that they suffered retaliation; strengthening investigations in whistleblower disclosures and alleged reprisal; and assisting IGs in coordinating with other stakeholders such as the Office of Special Counsel and Congress.

The legislation also requires additional reporting to Congress on disciplinary actions against those who retaliate against whistleblowers. A companion bill in the House is planned.