Section 827 of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act [pdf] permanently enhances whistleblower protections for employees of DoD and NASA contractors and sub-contractors. Section 828 establishes a“pilot program” to provide enhanced whistleblower protections for employees of civilian agency contractors and subcontractors for the next four years. In plain English, here is a look at what the enhanced whistleblower protections are:
- Subcontractor employees are covered by the whistleblower protections. Existing law had extended whistleblower protections only to prime contractor employees.
- Internal disclosures of non-compliance are protected. Existing law protected whistleblowers only when they made “external disclosures” to government officials.
- Allegations of “abuse of authority” are included in the list of protected disclosures.
- Contract clauses limiting whistleblower rights are unenforceable.
- Individuals who prevail on whistleblower claims may recover their reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.
These amendments are not “new” whistleblower protections, as much as they are an expansion of the whistleblower protections adopted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Public Law No. 111-5 (Feb. 17, 2009) [pdf], also known as “the Stimulus.” The ARRA whistleblower protections appeared in section 1553.