The bill would close court-created exceptions to an earlier whistleblower protection law, exceptions that had the effect of weakening those protections.
The legislation does not extend protections to national security and intelligence community employees, but that was done in October with a presidential policy directive issued by President Obama.
While some advocates praised the directive as “unprecedented” and “a landmark breakthrough,” they also made it clear they want protections for national security workers codified in law.
“The directive fails to provide whistleblowers with any new enforceable legal rights,” Stephen M. Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center, said when the directive was issued. “In fact, the directive specifically states that it does not ‘create any right or benefit’ for whistleblowers. This section renders the directive toothless. We are concerned that national security employees may think that this directive gives them some much-needed protections when it does not.”
Both chambers might want to rethink legislation that delayed until Dec. 8 the online posting of the personal financial information of 28,000 high-ranking feds, as required by the Stock Act.
The Dec. 8 date was itself a delay from an earlier requirement to post the information Aug. 30. Congress pushed back the date after strong protests by federal employee organizations, which said the online posting requirement could endanger personal and national security.
The delay was designed to allow more time to study the impact of the law, the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, which is designed to prohibit conflicts of interest. Employees already disclose the information, but they objected to posting it on the Internet.
Congress also authorized the National Academy of Public Administration six months to study the law’s impact, a period that does not expire until spring. So the current date for posting the data comes well before the results of the study are due. Pushing the posting date back until after the study is completed only makes sense.
“There’s a disconnect there,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said shortly after Congress approved the latest Stock Act measure. “I will push for a further delay until we have the benefit of the report.”
Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson.