The DOJ is enhancing whistleblower protections for employees who expose problems at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where reports of retaliation have been criticized by the White House and lawmakers.
An October 17 letter from Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik to Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Wyden set out 11 reforms to encourage workers to come forward without fear of reprisals.
The DOJ has implemented some of the recommendations that came from a two-year agency review. Others will require formal rule making, Kadzik said.
“The [Justice] Department recognizes the important role played by whistleblowers in our law enforcement efforts,” Kadzik said in the letter.
“We take very seriously our responsibilities with regard to FBI employees who make protected disclosures under the regulations,” he said.
Among the reforms are paying whistleblowers compensatory damages, giving them access to mediation, and allowing protected communications to more officials.
The DOJ also said it will publish decisions in whistleblower cases and provide training on whistleblower regulations.
“President Obama ordered the review in October 2012, following reports that those who reported problems at the bureau have been confined to basement offices, given little work to do and had their reputations tarnished with ‘loss of effectiveness’ labels,” the Hill said.
The DOJ was supposed to deliver its findings 180 days after Obama’s 2012 order.
“They have been a long time in coming, but many of the Justice Department proposals to improve protections and due process for whistleblowers at the FBI would be significant improvements,” Senator Wyden told the Hill.
“What’s important now is to make sure the [DOJ] follows through and really makes those changes,” he said.
Senator Grassley was more cautious.
“Nobody’s got on rose-colored glasses that the culture for whistleblowers at the FBI will change anytime soon, but many of the items outlined in the FBI’s analysis are promising,” he told the Hill.
“I’m not a fan of all of the recommendations, but it would at least be a step forward if some of them are actually implemented and carried out,” Grassley said.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.