WASHINGTON — Empower Oversight submitted two letters concerning protections for whistleblowers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), one to Chairman Jim Jordan of the House Judiciary Committee (pdf), and another to the Department of Justice (DOJ, pdf).
In his letter to Chairman Jordan, Empower Oversight President Tristan Leavitt proposed specific amendments to the law to give FBI whistleblowers the same protections enjoyed by most other whistleblowers across agencies, including at other federal law enforcement agencies. These changes would grant the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) jurisdiction to investigate prohibited personnel practices at the FBI, like whistleblower retaliation.
The letter was a follow-up to Leavitt’s recent testimony before the House Judiciary Select Subcommittee on Federal Government Weaponization. Alongside several FBI whistleblowers who also appeared at the hearing, Leavitt described the “second-class status” of FBI whistleblowers and testified: “Time has demonstrated it was a mistake to exclude the FBI from the standard whistleblower protection process…Congress should treat the FBI the same as other federal law enforcement agencies, eliminating its special exception and giving its employees access to OSC to investigate retaliation.”
Empower Oversight’s letter to DOJ related to proposed new regulations required by the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2016. Leavitt noted the DOJ’s slow-walking of a bill Congress passed years ago: “It is unclear why it took the Department nearly seven years since Congress passed the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2016 to adopt these regulations. This lengthy delay in promulgating regulations is simply unacceptable.”
Leavitt also noted that while the James N. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 gave FBI employees the right to appeal retaliation to the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), DOJ’s proposed regulation failed to incorporate this new right into the substance of its proposed rule. Leavitt pushed for the DOJ to “make clear in its rule that the [MSPB appeal] right…applies to all FBI employees—including those who had retaliation complaints pending at the Department when the new law was passed.”
If you have first-hand information you’d like to disclose to assist Empower Oversight with these inquiries, please contact us confidentially here.