Summary: H.R.985 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (03/14/2007)

Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007 - (Sec. 2) Expands the types of whistleblower disclosures protected from personnel reprisals to include disclosures without restriction as to time, place, form, motive, context, forum, or prior disclosures made to any person by an employee or applicant for employment, including a disclosure made in the ordinary course of an employee's duties, that the employee or applicant reasonably believes is a violation of any law.

(Sec. 3) Defines "disclosure" as a formal or informal communication, not including a communication concerning policy decisions that lawfully exercise discretionary authority unless the employee providing the disclosure reasonably believes that it evidences: (1) any violation of law; or (2) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.

Defines "clear and convincing evidence" as evidence indicating that the matter to be proved is highly probable or reasonably certain, for purposes of Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) reviews of prohibited personnel practices.

(Sec. 4) Provides that any presumption relating to the performance of a duty by an employee with personnel authority may be rebutted by substantial evidence.

Codifies the legal standard (i.e., disinterested observer with knowledge of the essential facts) for determining whether an employee or applicant for employment has a reasonable belief of the validity of their whistleblower disclosures.

(Sec. 5) Includes as a prohibited personnel practice the implementation or enforcement of any nondisclosure policy, form, or agreement.

Prohibits any agency from: (1) implementing or enforcing any nondisclosure policy, form, or agreement if it does not contain a specified statement of employee rights and obligations; or (2) conducting an investigation (other than that necessary to the agency's mission) of an employee or applicant for employment because of any protected whistleblower activity.

(Sec. 6) Includes as an agency exempt from whistleblower restrictions the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Requires the removal of any agency or unit by the President from whistleblower protection coverage to be made before any personnel action is taken against a whistleblower at that agency.

(Sec. 7) Expands the authority of the MSPB to discipline an employee who takes adverse personnel action against a whistleblower if it finds that the protected activity was the primary motivating factor in such employee's action.

(Sec. 8) Directs the Comptroller General to conduct a study on certain security clearance revocations and to report to Congress on such study.

(Sec. 9) Allows an employee, former employee, or applicant for employment who seeks corrective action from the MSPB for an alleged prohibited personnel practice to bring legal action in federal district court for de novo review and seek a jury trial, if the MSPB fails to issue a timely final order or decision.

Allows the MSPB to award interest and reasonable expert witness fees as compensatory damages.

(Sec. 10) Prohibits adverse personnel actions against an employee of a covered national security agency (i.e., Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and any other executive branch agency determined by the President to have as its principal function the conduct of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence activities) for making whistleblower disclosures to an authorized Member of Congress or executive branch official or to the Inspector General of the covered agency that employs the whistleblower.

Requires: (1) the Inspector General to investigate any claim of adverse personnel actions against an employee of a covered agency; and (2) the head of such agency to make a determination of whether a prohibited personnel practice has taken place and take corrective action.

Authorizes a whistleblower to seek judicial review of an adverse determination by an agency head.

(Sec. 11) Requires the head of a civilian executive agency, within 180 days of an employee complaint, to determine whether a private contractor has subjected an employee whistleblower to a reprisal and to either issue an order denying relief or take corrective action. Allows such employee whistleblower to request a jury trial in a federal district court and seek compensatory damages if the agency head does not issue an order or take corrective action.

(Sec. 12) Extends federal whistleblower protections to individuals holding or applying for a position in the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

(Sec. 13) Modifies the definition of "abuse of authority" with respect to prohibited personnel practices against a whistleblower relating to scientific and other research to include: (1) any action that compromises the validity or accuracy of federally funded research or analysis; (2) the dissemination of false or misleading scientific, medical, or technical information; (3) any action that restricts or prevents publication of scientific material; and (4) any action that discriminates for or against any employee or applicant on the basis of religion (as defined in this Act).

(Sec. 14) Makes the provisions of this Act effective 30 days after enactment (except for TSA employee whistleblower provisions which are effective immediately upon enactment).