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New Whistleblower Protections for Federal Employees Take Effect

wwOn October 26, 2017, the Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 was passed into law. The new law provides more protections for whistleblowers that report fraud, waste, and abuse in the federal government. Some of these protections include: providing the Office of Special Counsel more access to information in order to fully conduct investigations into whistleblower firings; informing federal employees of their rights as whistleblowers; providing managers with training on whistleblower protections; tougher penalties against supervisors who retaliate against whistleblowers; and better protections for probationary employees fired for whistleblowing.

The law’s namesake, Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick, was a clinical psychologist at a Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital in Wisconsin. In early 2009, he noticed that his patients were being over-prescribed opioids, but was given a written reprimand after he complained. Several months later, he was fired after reporting a patient for making threats against him and his dog, and subsequently committed suicide. A VA investigation earlier last year revealed that patients at this particular hospital were 2.5 times more likely than the national average to get higher doses of opioids, confirming the truth of Kirkpatrick’s reports.

The Office of Special Counsel has issued a series of three memos so far this month, reminding federal agencies of their obligations to implement new policies and procedures in order to comply with the new law.

By: Kenneth St. John February 13, 2018

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