National Public Radio‘s Morning Edition reports that the federal government’s attitude towards whistleblowers has been slowly improving over the last few years. In the not too distant past, employees who blew the whistle on government fraud or waste risked losing their jobs or even their entire careers. However, after years of lobbying by good government groups, the U.S. government passed a whistleblower protection enhancements law last November. The new law makes clear that federal employees can challenge policy decisions without losing their jobs, and also directs agencies to appoint an ombudsman to help whistleblowers understand their rights and to protect them from retaliation.
I believe these incremental changes reflect a growing consensus among government and employers both public and private, big and small, that whistleblowers perform an important public service by exposing fraud, waste, unethical conduct, and criminality — often at the risk of their jobs and future careers.
Whistle blowers should be encouraged, not punished. The federal government’s movement in this direction is a positive sign.