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New law gives government whistleblowers increased protection

Last Thursday, President Barack Obama signed a law that will give federal employers who blow the whistle on waste and fraud in the government more protection.

This is good news for everybody, because it might mean that federal employers will be less afraid to report such abuse, thus perhaps leading to fewer wasted taxpayer dollars.

Among its provisions, the new law protects Transportation Security Administration workers for the first time and also expands coverage to government scientists.

The law will also make it less difficult to punish supervisors who try to stifle whistleblowers when they shine a light on misconduct. It accomplishes this by changing the "burden of proof" that supervisors must show when they are trying to punish whistleblowers.

From start to finish, it took 13 years to get the bill from first draft to enforceable law. The legal director for a noted nonprofit that protects government whistleblowers said the bill's passage to fruition had been stymied by "government managers at all levels" who were worried about what the bill would mean for them.

While this bill is good news, we should not forget that government whistleblowers are not the only ones who need protection. We all should be free to report the waste of government money when and where we see it.

Source: The Washington Post, "President signs whistle-blower bill to protect federal workers who expose fraud, waste," Nov. 27, 2012

•· In our Boston office, we often help people who think they have uncovered a waste or fraudulent use of the government's money. For more information, you might consider visiting our Whistleblower page

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