The Federal Workforce:

Observations on Protections From Discrimination and Reprisal for Whistleblowing

GAO-01-715T: Published: May 9, 2001. Publicly Released: May 9, 2001.

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Federal employees who report waste, fraud, and abuse shouldn't have to fear discrimination and retaliation. Despite laws designed to protect whistleblowers, some have experienced or believed that they have experienced reprisals. Proposed legislation--the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2001--would provide additional protections for federal employees and would provide important data to decisionmakers. First, the act would require agencies to report the number of discrimination and whistleblower reprisal cases. Because of a lack of data, the federal government currently doesn't have a clear picture of the volume of discrimination and whistleblowing reprisal cases involving federal employees. Such data could be a starting point for agency managers to understand the nature and scope of issues in the workplace involving reprisals and discrimination. Second, the act would make agencies and their leaders accountable for providing fair and equitable workplaces. In addition, individuals would be held accountable for their actions in cases in which discrimination has occurred. Finally, the act would require agencies to notify employees in writing of their rights and protections. This provision reinforces existing requirements that employees be notified of the rights and remedies concerning discrimination and whistleblower protection.

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