Fedweek

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In passing a bill to expand whistleblower protections for federal employees the House added several provisions beyond those included in the measure (HR-2988) cleared by its Oversight and Reform Committee.

Major provisions of the bill would make disclosing the identity of a whistleblower an act of retaliation; clarify that whistleblower protections apply for disclosures made to Congress, to an employee’s supervisor or others in the employee’s chain of command; require timely consideration by the MSPB of employees’ requests for stays of personnel actions; lower the legal standard for granting such requests; expand employees’ rights to challenge executive branch nondisclosure agreements; and make clear that an employee would be entitled to recover attorney fees if the employee prevails in judicial review of a decision by the MSPB.

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During floor voting, the House approved an amendment to: allow whistleblowers to challenge adverse security clearance actions through the same adjudication process used for other whistleblower retaliation complaints; and require GAO to issue a report on the timeliness of MSPB whistleblower complaint rulings and the rate of whistleblowers opting for a district court trial, among other issues.

The amendment also would: direct each Office of Inspector General to establish and maintain a mechanism to receive anonymous whistleblower information that conforms to specified requirements to ensure and maintain anonymity; create new reporting requirement for IGs to provide to Congress the number of instances in which their office did not resolve a whistleblower retaliation complaint within 8 months after receiving the complaint.

The House passed the bill by 223-201 largely along party lines, sending it to the Senate.

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