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Government Operations committee  We have a parallel system for intelligence workers. Twelve out of the first 32 nations that adopted whistle-blower laws had some type of exemption or reduced rights for national security workers. The majority rule is to give them the same protection against retaliation as everyone else.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  Yes. This is not a new phenomenon. As long as we've had organized societies, power's been abused and people, sooner or later, have stuck their necks out and challenged it and said, “This is wrong”. If they do it with weapons, sometimes they're called “revolutionaries” or “terrorists”.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  It has stopped, has exposed blanket domestic surveillance and led to passage of the USA Freedom Act. It's gotten dangerous drugs off the market, such as Vioxx, which killed 50,000 Americans. It led to resources in Afghanistan and Iraq that protected our troops against land mines.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  The first thing is to make sure that the law protects all the people in the village that you want to and be working with the whistle-blower to prevent isolation. That's the primary requirement, which means that people who are mistakenly perceived to be whistle-blowers, people who assist the whistle-blower, and people who are providing supporting evidence be protected as well.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  There is really no particular type of whistle-blower. Wherever there is power, it can be abused, and people act on their consciences and challenge those abuses of power. I would second Mark's insight that a particular sore spot that tends to accumulate whistle-blowers involves government contracts and procurement.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  Yes, the most impressive data would be on the success of the whistle-blower rights in the False Claims Act to challenge fraud in government contracts. The track record has been phenomenal. I'm glad to share that.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  The minimum is to have the right to present your own evidence, testify on your own behalf on the public record, and challenge your accusers. It's a challenge to retaliation. Some of the most effective whistle-blower laws enfranchise whistle-blowers to go to court on the attack against the corruption or abuse of power through private attorney general statutes.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  Thank you, Madam. The record is incomplete, to my understanding, but there is some preliminary data. In the first nine months of Serbia's law, there were 35 applications for temporary relief; 26 of those were granted, which is an extraordinary success rate in freezing retaliation.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  There, the key is protection for internal disclosure. You have to have the right to go public when there's a conflict of interest or obstruction of justice within the institution, but the knee-jerk reaction for almost all employees—more than 90%, and almost every study shows this—is to choose to go to their boss first, to operate within the environment that has been their professional world or life.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  I'm not sure I heard your question properly.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  Basically, this is an expanded version of the protection against prior restraint. Often there will be pre-emptive strikes because someone is digging where you don't want them to look, they're asking the wrong question, they're raising challenges internally that aren't accusations or a formal list of undisclosures, but they're putting the wrong topics on the table.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  Your concern is very well taken. The point of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, which set up the modern structure for the U.S. whistle-blower law, was to separate out the agency that had management responsibility from other institutions, which would be independent of those duties and therefore be able to concentrate, without conflicts of interest, on merit-system ranks, such as whistle-blower protection.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  That's absolutely right. There's no requirement to go through the chain of command for a private sector employee.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  No, they don't. The reason is that, in many instances, there's a conflict of interest that means going through the chain of command is actually going to be obstructing justice, and you have to have the freedom to adopt those scenarios. The key challenge for us has been making sure that they have protection when they do go through the chain of command, because the instinct of over 90% of whistle-blowers is to follow the system, and oftentimes that can be quite treacherous.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine

Government Operations committee  I'm not sure that I heard your question properly, sir, but that is the overwhelming rule, that the whistle-blower laws apply to public or private sectors. Some nations have them divided into different structures for the different contexts.

April 4th, 2017Committee meeting

Tom Devine