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CRAMER: House Votes to Protect Government Whistleblowers

Oct 12, 2017
Press Release


Recording: Audio

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congressman Kevin Cramer supported a bill passed by the House of Representatives today which adds new protections for whistleblowers who face retaliation by agency managers.

The Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act (S. 585) establishes minimum disciplinary standards across all agencies for retaliation and expedites investigations of instances in which probationary federal employees are fired for whistleblowing. It provides the Office of Special Counsel with adequate access to information from federal agencies to allow for complete investigations and to better protect whistleblowers. The bill also ensures that all federal employees are informed of their rights as whistleblowers and provides training to managers on protections.

S. 585 is named after Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick, a psychologist at the VA Medical Center in Tomah, Wisconsin, who was fired after he questioned the over-medication of veterans being treated at the facility. On the day of his termination, Dr. Kirkpatrick committed suicide. The bill now goes to the White House where is awaits a signature from President Trump to become law.

“Retaliation against government employees like Dr. Kirkpatrick who are doing the right thing by exposing the mistreatment of our veterans and other abuses of government power is unacceptable and demands a response by Congress,” said Cramer. This bill adds necessary protections for whistleblowers and ensures stronger accountability in the VA system and among all federal agencies. Government employees should be able to report bad behavior in their workplaces without the fear of losing their job.”

Further Background

  • Establishes measures to hold VA employees that improperly access the medical records of their fellow VA employees accountable.
  • Requires the VA to come up with a plan to restrict unauthorized employee access to medical files so they cannot be used as a means of retaliation.
  • Requires the Government Accountability Office to provide two reports to discuss retaliation against employees on probationary status and assess management and staffing levels of police officers at VA medical centers.