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Survival Guide for Whistleblowers

Posted  April 16, 2019

Last week, three of the most prominent organizations dedicated to protecting and educating whistleblowers announced the launch of a whistleblower survival guide. Actually, it is an update to a guide these groups – Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Government Accountability Project (GAP) and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) – published roughly 20 years ago as a resource for whistleblowers working for the federal government.

The release of the updated book, “Caught Between Conscience & Career: Expose Abuse Without Exposing Identity,” coincides with the 30th Anniversary of the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). This is the statute that aims to protect Federal employees who disclose potential legal and regulatory violations, government waste or abuse, and dangers to public health or safety. The statute was amended in 2012 with the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) which attempts to provide further protections to federal whistleblowers. These protections are somewhat similar to those afforded non-governmental whistleblowers under the False Claims Act, the Dodd-Frank Act, the various state False Claims Acts and the host of other statutes designed to encourage and protect whistleblowers.

According to its authors, the survival guide is “intended to help and empower conscientious government employees when they encounter wrongdoing in the workplace.” It is also designed to show these whistleblowers how to fight this wrongdoing “from within without sacrificing your career.” The guide covers the following key areas:

  • Why whistleblowing is important and professionally dangerous
  • How to blow the whistle anonymously
  • How best to protect your identity in the digital age
  • How to navigate the bureaucracy of making an official disclosure
  • How to work with the press
  • The legal protections against retaliation and the limits of these protections

In creating this updated guide, POGO, GAP and PEER are reinforcing one of their core missions which is to promote and protect whistleblowers within the government:

Over the years, working with public employees who “commit truth” has been a great honor for the three organizations authoring this guide. We dedicate this guide to the whistleblowers we have known throughout the years – to their sacrifice, their incredible accomplishments, and their legacy of ethical government stewardship.

Despite the protections the WPA and WPEA afford federal whistleblowers, blowing the whistle remains a particularly risky proposition for these whistleblowers as there remain various loopholes in the protections that leave governmental whistleblowers vulnerable to retaliation. Hopefully, this guide along with the great work POGO, GAP and PEER otherwise do in standing up for whistleblowers will make the world of whistleblowing a less risky proposition for those seeking to report on government fraud and wrongdoing. Not to mention raise a helpful spotlight on the importance of all whistleblowers and the critical role they play in keeping us all safe and sound.


Tagged in: Importance of Whistleblowers, Whistleblower Protection Laws,

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