On Dec. 7, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously voted in favor of affording additional protections to FBI whistleblowers who report fraud, waste and abuse up the chain of command.
H.R. 5790, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, passed in a 404-0 vote. If signed into law, those who share information to supervisors and managers would be shielded from retaliation, giving them the same protections other federal government workers enjoy, reports the Washington Examiner.
"We must protect federal employees who have the courage to speak out about misconduct and waste in our government," said Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, who introduced the bill along with Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, notes Chaffetz's official representative webpage. "The FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act is a critical tool that can be used to shield these brave individuals from unwarranted retaliation. Chairman Chaffetz and all involved should be commended for their work in this regard."
Whistleblowers in the FBI would also be protected under the bill if they were to share their information with the Department of Justice's inspector general and the Office of Special Counsel.
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"We have great respect and admiration for the FBI," said Chaffetz. "They do wonderful work. It's because I respect the FBI and its agents that I helped introduce this bill ... The whistleblowers protections in the FBI have really not kept up with the rest of government, and that's why we need a change here. The whistleblowers at the FBI should be treated the same as they are within the rest of the federal government."
Chaffetz introduced the bill after finding in a 2015 report that whistleblowers had a far smaller scope of protections in the FBI as opposed to other federal departments.
"Whistleblowers play an indispensable role in rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse within federal agencies," added Chaffetz. "As the only federal law enforcement employees exempt from the Whistleblower Protection Act, FBI whistleblowers need a process they can count on to protect them. They shouldn't have to worry about losing their jobs for telling the truth. The existing process simply doesn’t work."