A Government Accountability Office report issued May 7 contains some recommendations on the steps Congress could take to better protect American whistleblowers from retaliation.
According to the document, federal whistleblowers frequently go to members of Congress to report fraud, waste and agency-related abuse. This points to how crucial it is for Congressional staff to know how to respond to these complaints and avoid exposing whistleblowers to the negative side effects of exposing wrongdoing.
The report identifies four key points at which Congressional staff must operate in a way that assists these whistleblowers:
- Intake: When whistleblowers first report a problem, staff must have processes in place for maintaining security and tracking cases, along with building a rapport and good communication with the whistleblower.
- Course of action: After intake, staff should have processes to determine the best course of action to take after a whistleblower makes a disclosure. These practices and priorities should be communicated with the whistleblower.
- Reference: The Congressional office should refer this disclosure to an agency oversight office or other congressional body. Staff must communicate referral options and get the whistleblower’s permission before sharing any personal information.
- Follow up: Congressional offices must have follow-up procedures in place for communication with the whistleblower. They also must explain these procedures to the whistleblower in advance and answer any questions the individual may have.
For more information on the steps Congress takes to protect whistleblowers, work with an experienced attorney at Kardell Law Group.