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The Whistleblower Protection Act: An Overview

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Publication Date: March 2007

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Topic: Government (Government employees)


This report discusses the federal statutory protections contained within the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) for federal employees who engage in "whistleblowing," that is, making a disclosure evidencing illegal or improper government activities. The protections of the WPA apply to most federal executive branch employees and become applicable where a "personnel action" is taken "because of" a "protected disclosure" made by a "covered employee." Generally, whistleblower protections may be raised within four forums or proceedings: (1) employee appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board of an agency's adverse action against an employee, known as "Chapter 77" appeals; (2) actions instituted by the Office of Special Counsel; (3) individually maintained rights of action before the Merit Systems Protection Board (known as an individual right of action, or IRA); and (4) grievances brought by the employee under negotiated grievance procedures.

On March 9, 2007, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform reported H.R. 985 (110th Cong.) H.Rept. 110-42, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007, which would amend the WPA by providing protections for certain national security, government contractor, and science-based agency whistleblowers, and by enhancing the existing whistleblower protections for all federal employees.


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