SPECIAL COUNSEL ELAINE KAPLAN TESTIFIES BEFORE SENATE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON LEGISLATION TO AMEND
THE WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ACT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 7/25/01
CONTACT: JANE MCFARLAND
Special Counsel Elaine D. Kaplan, of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), testified this afternoon before the Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation, and Federal Services; Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Subcommittee Chairman Akaka called the hearing to examine legislation aimed at improving protections under the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), S. 995, the Whistleblower Protection Act Amendments.
One of OSC’s primary missions is to protect federal employee whistleblowers and Special Counsel Kaplan testified in support of S. 995.
Kaplan expressed her strong support for the bill’s provisions to provide OSC with independent litigating authority and the right to request judicial review of Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB or Board) decisions that will have a substantial impact upon the enforcement of the WPA. She stated that these changes were necessary both to ensure OSC’s effectiveness and to address the concerns of the bill’s sponsors: the whittling away of WPA’s protections by narrow judicial interpretations of law.
Kaplan said that the bill, “ would ensure that the government agency charged with protecting whistleblowers will have an equal opportunity to participate in the shaping of the law.” She said, “under current law, the Special Counsel . . . can scarcely participate at all in the arena in which the law is largely shaped – the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.”
Under current law, OSC must be represented by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in all court proceedings. Kaplan testified that it was “unacceptable for DOJ to make final decisions about how OSC cases should be briefed and argued. Not only does OSC routinely investigate and prosecute cases of retaliation against DOJ and its component agencies, DOJ attorneys routinely represent agencies in the Federal Circuit against charges of retaliation. Its institutional interests are directly in conflict with those of
Kaplan stated that the “Congress has consistently expressed its intention that OSC take an aggressive role in protecting whistleblowers against retaliation.” She concluded that S. 995 would “provide us with the tools we need to do the job right.”
Special Counsel Kaplan’s testimony is available at OSC’s website,
www.osc.gov, in the Reading Room. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Its primary mission is to protect federal employees against prohibited personnel practices, especially retaliation for