Summary: S.274 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate amended (12/17/2007)

Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act - Includes as a protected disclosure by a federal employee: (1) any lawful disclosure an employee or applicant reasonably believes is credible evidence of waste, abuse, or gross mismanagement, without restriction as to time, place, form, motive, context, or prior disclosure; and (2) any disclosure of information required to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs that the employee or applicant reasonably believes is direct evidence of waste, abuse, or gross mismanagement if such disclosure is made to a Member or employee of Congress who is authorized to receive information of the type disclosed. Excludes disclosures pertaining to policy decisions that lawfully exercise discretionary authority unless the disclosing employee reasonably believes that there is evidence of a violation of law or government waste, fraud, or abuse. Provides for the discipline of employees for disclosures to congressional employees who are not authorized to receive such information.

Codifies the legal standard for determining whether a whistleblower has a reasonable belief that a disclosure evidences governmental waste, fraud, or abuse, or a violation of law.

Provides that the following actions may not be taken against whistleblowers for protected disclosures: (1) implementation or enforcement of any nondisclosure policy, form, or agreement; (2) security clearance suspension or revocation; and (3) investigation (other than routine nondiscretionary agency investigations) of an employee or applicant for employment.

Authorizes the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) to conduct an expedited review of cases charging retaliation for whistleblowing when the whistleblower's security clearance or access determination is suspended, revoked, or otherwise adversely affected. Requires an agency that improperly revokes a whistleblower's security clearance to report to Congress explaining its actions. Exempts an agency from this requirement if the agency can show by a preponderance of the evidence (currently, clear and convincing evidence is required) that it would have taken the same personnel action in the absence of the whistleblower disclosure.

Authorizes the President to exclude certain agencies engaged in the conduct of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence activities from whistleblower protections if such exclusion is made prior to any personnel action against the whistleblower.

Expands the authority of MSPB to impose disciplinary action for prohibited personnel practices.

Authorizes the Office of Special Counsel to appear as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in any civil action involving prohibited personnel actions against whistleblowers or the Hatch Act.

Permits petitions for review of whistleblower actions to be filed in any court of appeals of competent jurisdiction (currently limited to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) for five years after enactment of this Act.

Requires all federal agency nondisclosure policies, forms, and agreements to contain specified language preserving the right of federal employees to disclose certain protected information.

Amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide that, for purposes of provisions regarding the protection of voluntarily shared critical infrastructure information, a permissible use of independently obtained critical infrastructure information includes any lawful disclosure an employee or applicant reasonably believes is credible evidence of waste, fraud, abuse, or gross mismanagement, without restriction as to time, place, form, motive, context, or prior disclosure.

Requires federal agencies to instruct employees on how to make a lawful disclosure of classified information to the Special Counsel, the Inspector General of an agency, Congress, or other agency employee designated to receive such information.

Requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report to specified congressional committees on the implementation of this Act.

Requires MSPB's annual reports to include as an addendum: (1) information relating to the outcome of cases in which violations were alleged; and (2) the number of such cases filed in the regional and field offices, the number of petitions for review filed in such cases, and the outcomes of such cases.