Something is backward when the nation’s premier law enforcement agency makes it difficult for people to report wrongdoing.

The agency in this case is the FBI. The people, its employee whistleblowers. The wrongdoing is waste, fraud and abuse within the bureau.

The difficulty facing those employees was demonstrated at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.

“The current system isn’t working,” Michael German, a former FBI special agent and whistleblower, told the panel. “The incremental improvements the Justice Department proposes are inadequate and would keep FBI employees trapped in a system with substandard protections.”

That system seems destined to change. If pressure from the hearing isn’t enough to move the bureaucracy, legislation probably will.

In his opening statement, Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said legal protections for FBI employees facing retaliation “are weaker than at any other agency. . . . Unlike every other federal agency, FBI employees are not protected from retaliation when they report wrongdoing to their direct supervisors.”

“This makes me scratch my head.”

A day later, he was not convinced that the FBI’s system is a good one.

The testimony “confirmed that the FBI is not particularly interested in protecting employees who point out fraud, waste and mismanagement,” Grassley told the Federal Diary on Thursday. “The FBI did not make a compelling case for why it needs a set of rules different from all other federal law enforcement when it comes to whistleblower protection.”

Read more in the Federal Diary.