Beginning July 1, whistleblowers working for Defense Department subcontractors will begin receiving protection against reprisals through a new law intended to better protect those who expose possible wrongdoing.
In addition, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013, contractors who report suspected waste, fraud and abuse within their company rather than directly to the DOD inspector general also will be protected, a modification of previous laws aimed at better protecting whistleblowers working on DOD contracts.
Nilgun Tolek, who directs investigations against whistleblower reprisals for the Defense Department inspector general’s office, explained the new law to reporters yesterday at the Pentagon.
“Since internal complaints weren’t covered under the statute, those people who did make an internal hotline complaint and believed they were retaliated against had nowhere to get protection,” Tolek said, adding that the measure “brings the statute up to par with existing whistleblower protections.”
The new law will apply to all DOD contracts beginning on or after July 1, as well as to new amendments to existing contracts.
Marguerite C. Garrison, deputy inspector general for administrative investigations, said complaints about abuse from DOD subcontractors revealed the need for the new law.
“Congress has recognized that there have been some loopholes in the provisions, and that the protections didn’t expand to everyone,” she explained.
The law will provide added protection to whistleblowers from retaliation by requiring “clear and convincing evidence” that a contractor would have taken the same disciplinary action against an employee even if he or she had not come forward with an allegation of abuse, Tolek said.