Blowing the whistle–still not easy


First, the good news; The percentage of federal employees claiming direct knowledge of waste or illegality in their agencies has dropped by more than one-third during the last two decades, according to a new report on whistleblowing. The bad news: Among those employees who reported alleged problems, there was an increase between 1992 and 2010 in the proportion who said they experienced at least a threat of reprisal for speaking out.

The numbers come from a lengthy report released this week by the Merit Systems Protection Board. The report draws on a wealth of data from MSPB surveys of thousands of feds conducted in those two years. Back in 1992, 17.7 percent of those surveyed said they had personally observed or directly obtained evidence of at least one illegal or wasteful activity at their agencies in the last 12 months. Those activities would include poor program management, using an official position for personal benefit or unfairly giving a leg up to a contractor, consultant or vendor. By last year, the percentage had fallen to 11.1 percent.

Of those who reported their concerns, only about 7 percent surveyed last year said they got any credit from management. About 44 percent said nothing happened, but almost 35 percent said they were either threatened with reprisal or and actually received a reprisal. In 1992, the comparable figure was about 30 percent.



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