By a voice vote the Senate Armed Services Committee last week approved an amendment offered by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to improve whistle blower protection for Department of Defense contractors. The Government AccountabilityProject reported that the action came as an amendment to the half-trillion dollar National Defense Authorization Act for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 (S. 567).
In a statement on her website Senator McCaskill said:
“Employees of private contractors in Iraq have witnessed all kinds of fraud, waste and abuse. They desperately need stronger whistleblower protection so they can help us stop the incredible waste of taxpayer dollars.”
In March the House of Representatives passed the whistleblower rights bill H.R. 985 by a331-94 margin. (Prior blog post on that.) Whistleblower advocates hope the McCaskill amendment signals that support is strong in the Senate as well.
(Sen Charles Grassley, R-Iowa)
In mid-May a coalition of whistleblower groups put on a week-long Senate lobbying action called National Whistleblower Week. NY Times reporter Scott Shane wrote a whimsical piece about both the “rock stars” of whistleblowing as well as “people who did not want to give their names — just yet.” Shane reported that:
“Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican and a sort of patron saint of whistle-blowers, spoke on Thursday to more than 100 whistle-blowers (and) wannabes . . . “You’re very much part of the system of checks and balances,” said Mr. Grassley, 73, who received an award and posed for snapshots with a long line of admirers.”
Other, sobering stuff in the article about what it costs those who step forward. Shane wrote about:
“Michael German, a 16-year agent in the Federal Bureau of Investigation who resigned in June 2004, after two years of what he describes as retaliation for his complaints about the mishandling of a terrorism investigation . . . ‘You have to be prepared to lose your job,’ Mr. German said. ‘As far as your career is concerned, the truth doesn’t matter.’ “
One last whistleblower note: Deepwater is the name of a Coast Guard scandal. Here is a link to a recent 60 Minutes report on how a $24 billion ship refitting program went awry.
Last week the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) reported that:
“Michael DeKort, who has helped to expose on the Coast Guard Deepwater scandal, issued a letter today challenging testimony by Lockheed Martin before two Subcommittees of the House Homeland Security Committee last week.”
In is interesting to me that Lockheed linked to the unflattering POGO press release and headlined it: “Deepwater Whistleblower Challenges Testimony by Lockheed Martin.” That’s pretty open PR on a sensitive subject.