Last week, the White House launched an unprecedented online process for public engagement in policymaking. It began with a week of brainstorming in which the public shared almost 900 submissions and 33,000 votes on various ideas ranging from strategies for making government data more accessible to legal and policy impediments to transparency. The "Brainstroming" phase closed last night and the "Discussion" phase begins today.
I urge you to go to the Open Government website at http://www.ostp.gov/..., which is run by the White House's Office of Science & Technology Policy, and put in your two cents!
Even though the public engagement process is moving into the "Discussion" phase, the "Brainstorming" phase has been so lively and productive that the "Brainstorming" site, hosted by the National Academy of Public Administration, will stay up for additional submissions through June 19: http://opengov.ideascale.com/.
Of course, federal whistleblower protection is at the top of my "Open Government" wish list, and already 292 organizations and corporations have registered their support for swift action to restore strong, comprehensive whistleblower rights. If you want to vote in support of this issue, go to:
The" target="_blank">click here landmark, nine-year legislative effort to restore credible whistleblower rights for government employees must be completed. See, e.g., the Bush administration's criminal treatment of whistleblowers, from blacklisting to bankrupting them. That means expeditiously passing legislation that includes certain critical reforms:
• Grant employees the right to a jury trial in federal court;
• Extend meaningful protections to FBI and intelligence agency whistleblowers;
• Strengthen protections for federal contractors, as strong as those provided to Defense Department contractors and grantees in last year’s defense authorization legislation;
• Neutralize the government’s use of the "state secrets" privilege;
• Bar the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) from ruling for an agency before whistleblowers have the opportunity to present evidence of retaliation;
• Provide whistleblowers the right to be made whole, including compensatory damages;
• Grant comparable due process rights to employees who blow the whistle in the course of a government investigation or who refuse to violate the law; and
• Remove the Federal Circuit’s monopoly on precedent-setting cases.
Whistleblower protection is a foundation for any change in which the public can believe. It does not matter whether the issue is economic recovery, prescription drug safety, environmental protection, infrastructure spending, national health insurance, or foreign policy. We need conscientious public servants willing and able to call attention to waste, fraud and abuse on behalf of the taxpayers.
Unfortunately, every month that passes has very tangible consequences for federal government whistleblowers, because none have viable rights. Last year, on average, 16 whistleblowers a month lost initial decisions from administrative hearings at the MSPB. Since 2000, only three out of 53 whistleblowers have received final rulings in their favor from the MSPB. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, the only court which can hear federal whistleblower appeals of administrative decisions, has consistently ruled against whistleblowers, with whistleblowers winning only three cases out of 209 since October 1994 when Congress last strengthened the law.
It is crucial that Congress restore and modernize the Whistleblower Protection Act by passing the above reforms. I know Kossacks share a commitment to more transparency and accountability in government. I hope this diary presents an easy way to participate in making passage of this good government reform law to protect federal whistleblowers and taxpayers a reality.
Because the current reality--having to choose your conscience over your career--is tragic.
James J. Murtagh, Jr. is a doctor of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, and the Medical Director of several sleep laboratories in Southern Ohio. Dr. Murtagh extensively writes on medical ethics. Dr. Murtagh is the founder of a new (more...