FEDweek

Whistleblowing Rights, Data Breaches Get Fresh Attention

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the main House panel overseeing federal employment matters, is focusing some of its first hearings of the year on issues left over from the past. They include a look at the state of agency IG offices–which produce audits and investigations that often become the backbone of congressional inquiries and action–in the wake of a recently signed law increasing their powers to obtain documents and other cooperation from agencies. Another topic will be the continuing vacancies in about a sixth of the 73 such offices. Also to be reviewed is the 2012 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which broadened the types of disclosures that are protected from retaliation and made numerous technical changes designed to better shield employees. A third hearing is to focus on steps announced a year ago in response to the breaches of personal information in federal employee personnel and background investigation files–the creation of a semi-independent entity within OPM to handle background investigation policy matters while shifting the databases to DoD for better protection.