Government contractors who blow the whistle on improper use of federal dollars or unethical behavior would be protected against retaliation under a bill introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
Recent laws that extend protections to some contractors have created a patchwork of inadequate protections, McCaskill, chairwoman of the Senate Contracting Oversight Subcommittee, said during a hearing Tuesday.
For example, whistleblower provisions added for defense contractor employees in 2008 do not protect contractors from retaliation by a government official nor does it cover subcontractors.
Senate Bill 241 would extend whistleblower protections to all government contractors and subcontractors, and consolidate some of the current whistleblower provisions for contractors.
McCaskill introduced the same bill in 2009.
Walter Tamosaitis, who worked for a subcontractor on an Energy Department nuclear waste treatment project in Hanford, Wash., testified that was kicked off the project and moved to a basement office after he raised technical design problems that could cause safety issues. Addressing the concerns would have kept the prime contractor, Bechtel, from finishing on time and collecting a $5 million award fee, he said.
“It’s a very visible example of what happens when you speak up,” he said.
Tamosaitis is now taking Bechtel and the Energy Department to court. Bechtel National spokesman Jason Bohne said the company is contesting all allegations of wrongdoing in Tamosaitis’ case.