September 22, 2017

Grassley, Leahy press Justice Department on ‘Whistleblower’ Protections

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senator Patrick Leahy on Wednesday pressed the Justice Department on its progress implementing whistleblower protections at the FBI. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Grassley and Leahy outline a series of concerns about whistleblower protections that have gone unaddressed despite government reports drawing attention to these problems and recommending changes.  The Justice Department’s own report from 2014 identified “key systemic problems” in protecting FBI whistleblowers under agency’s current regime.

“While the Department has taken initial steps to improve the timelines and effectiveness of its whistleblower program, it has failed to implement most of its own recommendations,” the Senators wrote.

Grassley and Leahy are inquiring about the Justice Department’s ability to gauge the success of the steps it has already taken to improve its response to whistleblower claims, like its voluntary mediation program and additional attorney work at the Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management to process claims. The senators are also seeking information on initiatives the department has yet to undertake to improve whistleblowers’ access to historic data to inform how to properly move forward with their cases. Further, the senators are requesting details on what criteria have been established for granting whistleblower hearings, why the Justice Department does not provide status updates or timelines on pending whistleblower cases, what progress has been made on considering provisions for compensatory damages for whistleblowers who suffer retaliation and other unincorporated practices that could better protect whistleblowers.

Grassley and Leahy have long championed whistleblower protections and have coauthored bipartisan legislation like the Whistleblower Protection Act of 2012 and the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2016.  VermontBiz

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