Obama signs whistle-blower protection bill into law


President Barack Obama addresses his first press conference since winning re-election on November 6.


Chip Somodevilla

President Barack Obama signed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act into law on Tuesday, expanding protection for federal workers who blow the whistle on fraud, waste and misconduct.

The Associated Press noted that the law closes loopholes created by court rulings, which removed protections for whistle-blowers. The law is the culmination of 13 years of campaigning by supporters of whistle-blower rights, like the Government Accountability Project.

A statement from the White House said the act would clarify the scope of protected disclosures, tighten requirements for non-disclosure agreements, expand the penalty for violating whistle-blower protections and estabilish an ombudsman in agencies who would educate employees on their rights.

The Wall Street Journal said the bill passed in the Senate two weeks ago by unanimous consent, after the House passed it in September.

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"This is a small but meaningful step," said Stephen Kohn, executive director of the National Whistleblowers Center, in a statement, according to The Journal. "The bill contains important reforms, but federal employees still lack most of the basic rights available to whistleblowers in the private sector."

The Government Accountability Project's Legal Director Tom Devine said in a statement, "Nothing could set a better context for fiscal cliff negotiations than a unanimous, bipartisan consensus to protect those who risk their careers to protect the taxpayers. This victory reflects a consensus ranging from President Obama to Representative Darrell Issa."

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