The House has passed a funding bill enhancing protections for whistleblowers at the VA, bringing the first of many personnel reforms being sought for that department close to enactment. The measure (HR-2577) is the result of a conference between the two chambers on earlier versions of the bill that each had passed. However, the bill has stalled in the Senate due to objections by Democrats there to unrelated provisions. There appears to be only a small chance those differences will be resolved in the two weeks before Congress recesses, most likely delaying the entire bill until September. There appears to be bipartisan agreement on the VA language, which would represent a major change in policies affecting both whistleblowers and agency management that is widely seen as setting a precedent for application government-wide. The bill specifies that in addition to standard whistleblower protections, a VA employee could make a disclosure to the immediate supervisor, who would be required to look into the matter and promptly notify the employee of the outcome; if dissatisfied, the employee could pursue the matter up the chain of command; after a positive finding by any level, the employee would be given preference for transferring if the employee desires; and an independent central whistleblower office would be created to receive and investigate complaints.
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