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OSC reminds federal agencies about new whistleblower laws

The protections afforded to federal workers in Florida and around the country who report fraud or other wrongdoing were strengthened when President Trump signed the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act and the Office of Special Counsel Reauthorization Act into law. The laws require disciplinary procedures to be revised and more thorough training to be provided about the consequences of whistleblower retaliation, and the OSC dispatched three memoranda to federal agencies on Feb. 1 to remind them about both their new and existing responsibilities.

The first OSC memorandum deals with the WhistleBlower Protection Act and emphasizes that supervisors who retaliate against whistleblowers must now face disciplinary proceedings. Agencies are also told to ensure that their orientation and training programs make new employees aware of federal whistleblower protections. The second OSC memorandum advises agencies to make sure that their non-disclosure policies and documentation are in line with the new statutory requirements.

The third memorandum sent by the OSC updates a 2012 communication that clarified a number of legal issues and provided insights to help agencies evaluate their practices and policies dealing with monitoring employee communications. A senior OSC figure said that the legislative changes will benefit the public and were needed to fill gaps in whistleblower protections and ensure that retaliation does not go unpunished.

Federal workers in Boca Raton, Florida, are often highly career-oriented, and they may be extremely reluctant to step forward and report waste or fraud. Attorneys with experience in this area may understand these concerns, and they could seek to ease them by pointing out the hard line that both Congress and the courts have taken on these issues.

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