U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin: “More must be done to change the status quo.”
Baldwin to Advance Reforms Extending Whistleblower Protections
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, attending a hearing this week titled, “Improving VA Accountability: Examining First-Hand Accounts of Department of Veterans Affairs Whistleblowers.” The hearing examined whistleblower claims involving the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the process by which the VA Inspector General’s Office (VA IG) and Office of Special Counsel (OSC) review such claims.
“As I have seen in Tomah, Wisconsin, and indeed the rest of the nation, the role of whistleblowers is critical – in fact heroic – in terms of steering us to running an effective organization. Agencies simply need to be much more open to accepting constructive criticism in order to improve – especially an agency such as VA – which has the tremendously important mission of taking care of our veterans,” said Senator Baldwin. “More must be done to change the status quo. We must build a VA that embraces rather than retaliates against whistleblowers who want to improve the system. We need to ensure that any whistleblower, whether they have been at the VA for ten days, ten months or ten years, has the same protections. If you are blowing the whistle on wrongdoing at the VA, you deserve to be protected and empowered. That is why I am currently working on legislation that will empower every employee at the VA with the same protections, including whistleblowers in their first year of employment.”
In the coming weeks, Senator Baldwin plans to introduce legislation that would advance the following reforms:
- extend whistleblower protection for temporary or probationary employees;
- protect those whistleblowers forced to resign due to hostile work conditions;
- create a training program to ensure that supervisors within each agency understand the roles and responsibilities of supervisors in protecting whistleblowers’ rights;
- require an annual training of supervisors;
- mandate an annual training of each agency employee regarding the treatment of whistleblower complaints; and
- instruct agency heads to publish on their website, and display prominently at each facility of the agency, the whistleblower rights of employees and how to file a whistleblower complaint.
Sean Kirkpatrick, brother of Dr. Chris Kirkpatrick, a psychologist who committed suicide after he was fired from the Tomah VA Medical Center in 2009, was among those who testified at this week’s hearing. READ Mr. Kirkpatrick’s testimony here.
Press Releases by Tammy Baldwin
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Announces $1.5 Million to Expand Apprenticeship Opportunities Across WisconsinOct 21st, 2016 by Tammy Baldwin
“Apprenticeship initiatives are one of the most effective vehicles for responding to the workforce readiness needs of business and industry,” said Senator Baldwin.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Calls on Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel to Get the Job Done on Wisconsin’s Longstanding Rape Kit BacklogOct 5th, 2016 by Tammy Baldwin
More than one year after Wisconsin Justice Department received federal investments, reports show state still has 6,000 kit backlog
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Statement on Investigations into Madison and Milwaukee Social Security OfficesSep 21st, 2016 by Tammy Baldwin
For the past year, Baldwin has worked on behalf of whistleblowers and raised questions about wrongdoing, harassment and retaliation
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Pushes for Economic Growth in Wisconsin with Small Business Innovation ActSep 21st, 2016 by Tammy Baldwin
National reform will support Wisconsin, which ranks last nationally in startup activity and entrepreneurship growth
We Must Do More to Provide Debt Relief & Support to Students, Veterans Suffering from Wide-Ranging Impacts of ITT Tech ClosureSep 17th, 2016 by Tammy Baldwin
Senators now call on ED to “use its existing legal authority” to increase total debt relief and support available to former ITT Tech students
Baldwin, McCain, Schakowsky Introduce Reform Requiring Transparency in Prescription Drug Price IncreasesSep 15th, 2016 by Tammy Baldwin
The bipartisan and bicameral FAIR Drug Pricing Act takes the first step to address skyrocketing prescription drug costs