Whistleblowers play a critical role in keeping our Government honest, efficient, and accountable. Recognizing whistleblowers’ important role, Federal law provides strong protections for them. The protections and remedies for these whistleblowers vary depending on whether the individual is a Federal employee or an employee of a Federal contractor, subcontractor, grantee, or subgrantee.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) for both Federal employees and employees of Federal contractors, subcontractors, grantees and subgrantees.
Information for Federal employees
Overview of the WPA - The Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) (5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8)) protects Federal employees or applicants for Federal employment from retaliation for making protected disclosures. The WPA also provides penalties for supervisors who retaliate against Whistleblowers.
Non-Federal employees (contractors, subcontractors)
Employees of federal contractors, subcontractors, grantees, and subgrantees (the “employees”) are often in the best position to spot waste, fraud, and abuse related to federal contracts and grants. Recognizing the critical role these employees play in shedding light on waste, fraud, and abuse in federal contracts and grants, Federal law protects these employees from retaliation for making protected disclosures. See 41 U.S.C. § 4712.
Notice related to non-disclosure agreements
The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 prohibits agencies from issuing or enforcing nondisclosure agreements, policies, or forms against current or former employees that do not contain the following statement:
These provisions are consistent with and do not supersede, conflict with, or otherwise alter the employee obligations, rights, or liabilities created by existing statute or Executive order relating to (1) classified information, (2) communications to Congress, (3) the reporting to an Inspector General of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, or mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or (4) any other whistleblower protection. The definitions, requirements, obligations, rights, sanctions, and liabilities created by controlling Executive orders and statutory provisions are incorporated into this agreement and are controlling.
The controlling Executive Orders and statutory provisions in the event of any conflict with a non-disclosure policy, form, or agreement include:
- The Whistleblower Protection Act, 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(8), as amended (governing disclosures of violations of law, waste, fraud, abuse or public health or safety threats);
- 5 U.S.C. § 7211 (governing disclosures to Congress);
- 10 U.S.C. § 1034, as amended by the Military Whistleblower Protection Act (governing disclosures to Congress by members of the military);
- The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, 50 U.S.C. § 421, et seq., (governing disclosures that could expose confidential government agents);
- The Subversive Activities Act of 1950, 50 U.S.C. § 783(b);
- The statutes which protect against disclosures that may compromise the national security, including sections 641, 793, 794, 798, and 952, of title 18, United States Code; and
- Executive Order No. 13526.