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GAO Advises Congress on Best Practices for Handling Government Employee Whistleblowers

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report in May advising Congress on the best way to appropriately assist federal government employee whistleblowers in combatting waste, fraud, and abuse. The report, titled Whistleblowers: Key Practices for Congress to Consider When Receiving and Referring Information, outlined the most effective techniques for congressional staff to when contacted by a government employee whistleblower.

The GAO interviewed congressional staff, executive officials, and advocacy groups to create a broad scope that looked at experiences with whistleblowers across the government. Stephen M. Kohn, an experienced whistleblower attorney, and partner in the whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, participated in the study in his capacity of Chairman of the National Whistleblower Center.

There are many avenues federal whistleblowers can take when reporting wrongdoing, which can cause confusion for those who are receiving the information. GAO outlined useful practices and crucial steps congressional staff should consider when working with federal whistleblowers.  Four essential areas are laid out in the report: Intake, Prioritization, Referral, and Follow-Up. Each has several tips for Congressional staff, each with the common goal of ensuring safety and protection for the whistleblower. See the infographic below. 

Federal government employee whistleblowers risk a lot when reporting fraud, waste, and abuse. Retaliation or “adverse action” against brave individuals who make protected disclosures to a member of Congress or other federal bodies under whistleblower protections to protect the public interest is prohibited. 

Resources for Federal Employees:

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The Whistleblower Blog is an editorially independent news and information source, sponsored by a pro bono public service project by Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP. The blog highlights important news, legal developments and policy issues critical to whistleblowers and their advocates, both in the United States and internationally. The contributors to this blog are respected leaders in their fields, including the authors of key whistleblower law books, current and former legal professors, spokespersons before Congressional committees and other public bodies, directors of non-profit whistleblower advocacy groups, and prominent attorneys specializing in representing/assisting whistleblowers in the United States and throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and South America.