Text: H.R.3042 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (06/23/2017)

 
[Congressional Bills 115th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 3042 Introduced in House (IH)]

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115th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 3042

  To provide greater whistleblower protections for Federal employees, 
increased awareness of Federal whistleblower protections, and increased 
  accountability and required discipline for Federal supervisors who 
       retaliate against whistleblowers, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             June 23, 2017

  Mr. Duffy introduced the following bill; which was referred to the 
 Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and in addition to the 
    Committee on Veterans' Affairs, for a period to be subsequently 
   determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such 
 provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
  To provide greater whistleblower protections for Federal employees, 
increased awareness of Federal whistleblower protections, and increased 
  accountability and required discipline for Federal supervisors who 
       retaliate against whistleblowers, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Dr. Chris 
Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017''.
    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents for this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
                      TITLE I--EMPLOYEES GENERALLY

Sec. 101. Definitions.
Sec. 102. Stays; probationary employees.
Sec. 103. Prohibited personnel practices.
Sec. 104. Discipline of supervisors based on retaliation against 
                            whistleblowers.
Sec. 105. Suicide by employees.
Sec. 106. Training for supervisors.
Sec. 107. Information on whistleblower protections.
           TITLE II--DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS EMPLOYEES

Sec. 201. Prevention of unauthorized access to medical records of 
                            employees of the Department of Veterans 
                            Affairs.
Sec. 202. Outreach on availability of mental health services available 
                            to employees of the Department of Veterans 
                            Affairs.
Sec. 203. Protocols to address threats against employees of the 
                            Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sec. 204. Comptroller General of the United States study on 
                            accountability of chiefs of police of 
                            Department of Veterans Affairs medical 
                            centers.

                      TITLE I--EMPLOYEES GENERALLY

SEC. 101. DEFINITIONS.

    In this title--
            (1) the term ``agency''--
                    (A) except as provided in subparagraph (B), means 
                an entity that is an agency, as defined under section 
                2302 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to 
                whether one or more portions of title 5 of the United 
                States Code are inapplicable to the entity; and
                    (B) does not include any entity that is an element 
                of the intelligence community, as defined in section 
                3(4) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 
                3003(4));
            (2) the term ``employee'' means an employee (as defined in 
        section 2105 of title 5, United States Code) of an agency; and
            (3) the term ``personnel action'' has the meaning given 
        that term under section 2302 of title 5, United States Code.

SEC. 102. STAYS; PROBATIONARY EMPLOYEES.

    (a) Request by Special Counsel.--Section 1214(b)(1) of title 5, 
United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
    ``(E) If the Merit Systems Protection Board grants a stay under 
this subsection, the head of the agency employing the employee shall 
give priority to a request for a transfer submitted by the employee.''.
    (b) Probationary Employees.--Section 1221 of title 5, United States 
Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
    ``(k) If the Merit Systems Protection Board grants a stay to an 
employee in probationary status under subsection (c), the head of the 
agency employing the employee shall give priority to a request for a 
transfer submitted by the employee.''.
    (c) Study Regarding Retaliation Against Probationary Employees.--
The Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to the 
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate 
and the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of 
Representatives a report discussing retaliation against employees in 
probationary status.

SEC. 103. PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICES.

    Section 2302(b) of title 5, United States Code, is amended--
            (1) in paragraph (12), by striking ``or'' at the end;
            (2) in paragraph (13), by striking the period at the end 
        and inserting ``; or''; and
            (3) by inserting after paragraph (13) the following:
            ``(14) access the medical record of another employee or an 
        applicant for employment as a part of, or otherwise in 
        furtherance of, any conduct described in paragraphs (1) through 
        (13).''.

SEC. 104. DISCIPLINE OF SUPERVISORS BASED ON RETALIATION AGAINST 
              WHISTLEBLOWERS.

    (a) In General.--Subchapter II of chapter 75 of title 5, United 
States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
``Sec. 7515. Discipline of supervisors based on retaliation against 
              whistleblowers
    ``(a) Definitions.--In this section--
            ``(1) the term `agency'--
                    ``(A) except as provided in subparagraph (B), means 
                an entity that is an agency, as defined under section 
                2302, without regard to whether any other provision of 
                this chapter is applicable to the entity; and
                    ``(B) does not include any entity that is an 
                element of the intelligence community, as defined in 
                section 3(4) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 
                U.S.C. 3003(4));
            ``(2) the term `prohibited personnel action' means taking 
        or failing to take an action in violation of paragraph (8), 
        (9), or (14) of section 2302(b) against an employee of an 
        agency; and
            ``(3) the term `supervisor' means an employee who would be 
        a supervisor, as defined under section 7103(a), if the entity 
        employing the employee was an agency.
    ``(b) Proposed Disciplinary Actions.--
            ``(1) In general.--If the head of the agency employing a 
        supervisor, an administrative law judge, the Merit Systems 
        Protection Board, the Special Counsel, a judge of the United 
        States, or the Inspector General of the agency employing a 
        supervisor determines that the supervisor has committed a 
        prohibited personnel action, the head of the agency employing 
        the supervisor, in accordance with the procedures required 
        under paragraph (2)--
                    ``(A) for the first prohibited personnel action 
                committed by a supervisor--
                            ``(i) shall propose suspending the 
                        supervisor for a period of not less than 3 
                        days; and
                            ``(ii) may, in addition to a suspension 
                        described in clause (i), propose any other 
                        action, including a reduction in grade or pay, 
                        that the head of the agency determines 
                        appropriate; and
                    ``(B) for the second prohibited personnel action 
                committed by a supervisor, shall propose removing the 
                supervisor.
            ``(2) Procedures.--
                    ``(A) Notice.--A supervisor against whom an action 
                is proposed to be taken under paragraph (1) is entitled 
                to written notice--
                            ``(i) stating the specific reasons for the 
                        proposed action; and
                            ``(ii) informing the supervisor of the 
                        right of the supervisor to review the material 
                        which is relied on to support the reasons for 
                        the proposed action.
                    ``(B) Answer and evidence.--
                            ``(i) In general.--A supervisor who is 
                        notified under subparagraph (A) that the 
                        supervisor is the subject of a proposed action 
                        under paragraph (1) is entitled to 14 days 
                        following such notification to answer and 
                        furnish evidence in support of the answer.
                            ``(ii) No evidence furnished; insufficient 
                        evidence.--After the end of the 14-day period 
                        described in clause (i), if a supervisor does 
                        not furnish evidence as described in clause (i) 
                        or if the head of the agency determines that 
                        such evidence is not sufficient to reverse the 
                        proposed action, the head of the agency shall 
                        carry out the action.
                    ``(C) Scope of procedures.--An action carried out 
                under this section--
                            ``(i) except as provided in clause (ii), 
                        shall be subject to the same requirements and 
                        procedures (including regarding appeals) as an 
                        action under section 7503, 7513, or 7543; and
                            ``(ii) shall not be subject to--
                                    ``(I) paragraphs (1) and (2) of 
                                section 7503(b);
                                    ``(II) paragraphs (1) and (2) of 
                                subsection (b) and subsection (c) of 
                                section 7513; or
                                    ``(III) paragraphs (1) and (2) of 
                                subsection (b) and subsection (c) of 
                                section 7543.
            ``(3) Delegation.--
                    ``(A) In general.--Except as provided in paragraph 
                (B), the head of an agency may delegate any authority 
                or responsibility under this subsection.
                    ``(B) Nondelegability of determination regarding 
                prohibited personnel action.--If the head of an agency 
                is responsible for determining whether a supervisor has 
                committed a prohibited personnel action for purposes of 
                paragraph (1), the head of the agency may not delegate 
                that responsibility.''.
    (b) Technical and Conforming Amendment.--The table of sections for 
subchapter II of chapter 75 of title 5, United States Code, is amended 
by adding at the end the following:

``7515. Discipline of supervisors based on retaliation against 
                            whistleblowers.''.

SEC. 105. SUICIDE BY EMPLOYEES.

    (a) Referral.--The head of an agency shall refer to the Special 
Counsel, along with any information known to the agency regarding the 
circumstances described in paragraphs (2) and (3), any instance in 
which the head of the agency has information indicating--
            (1) an employee of the agency committed suicide;
            (2) prior to the death of the employee, the employee made 
        any disclosure of information which reasonably evidences--
                    (A) any violation of any law, rule, or regulation; 
                or
                    (B) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an 
                abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific 
                danger to public health or safety; and
            (3) after a disclosure described in paragraph (2), a 
        personnel action was taken against the employee.
    (b) Office of Special Counsel Review.--For any referral to the 
Special Counsel under subsection (a), the Special Counsel shall--
            (1) examine whether any personnel action was taken because 
        of any disclosure of information described in subsection 
        (a)(2); and
            (2) take any action the Special Counsel determines 
        appropriate under subchapter II of chapter 12 of title 5, 
        United States Code.

SEC. 106. TRAINING FOR SUPERVISORS.

    In consultation with the Special Counsel and the Inspector General 
of the agency (or senior ethics official of the agency for an agency 
without an Inspector General), the head of each agency shall provide 
training regarding how to respond to complaints alleging a violation of 
whistleblower protections (as defined in section 2307 of title 5, 
United States Code, as added by section 107) available to employees of 
the agency--
            (1) to employees appointed to supervisory positions in the 
        agency who have not previously served as a supervisor; and
            (2) on an annual basis, to all employees of the agency 
        serving in a supervisory position.

SEC. 107. INFORMATION ON WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS.

    (a) Existing Provision.--
            (1) In general.--Section 2302 of title 5, United States 
        Code, is amended--
                    (A) by striking subsection (c); and
                    (B) by redesignating subsections (d), (e), and (f) 
                as subsections (c), (d), and (e), respectively.
            (2) Technical and conforming amendments.--
                    (A) Section 4505a(b)(2) of title 5, United States 
                Code, is amended by striking ``section 2302(d)'' and 
                inserting ``section 2302(c)''.
                    (B) Section 5755(b)(2) of title 5, United States 
                Code, is amended by striking ``section 2302(d)'' and 
                inserting ``section 2302(c)''.
                    (C) Section 110(b)(2) of the Whistleblower 
                Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 (5 U.S.C. 2302 note) 
                is amended by striking ``section 2302(f)(1) or (2)'' 
                and inserting ``section 2302(e)(1) or (2)''.
                    (D) Section 1217(d)(3) of the Panama Canal Act of 
                1979 (22 U.S.C. 3657(d)(3)) is amended by striking 
                ``section 2302(d)'' and inserting ``section 2302(c)''.
                    (E) Section 1233(b) of the Panama Canal Act of 1979 
                (22 U.S.C. 3673(b)) is amended by striking ``section 
                2302(d)'' and inserting ``section 2302(c)''.
    (b) Provision of Information.--Chapter 23 of title 5, United States 
Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
``Sec. 2307. Information on whistleblower protections
    ``(a) Definitions.--In this section--
            ``(1) the term `agency'--
                    ``(A) except as provided in subparagraph (B), has 
                the meaning given that term in section 2302; and
                    ``(B) does not include any entity that is an 
                element of the intelligence community, as defined in 
                section 3(4) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 
                U.S.C. 3003(4));
            ``(2) the term `new employee' means an individual--
                    ``(A) appointed to a position as an employee of an 
                agency on or after the date of enactment of the Dr. 
                Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017; 
                and
                    ``(B) who has not previously served as an employee; 
                and
            ``(3) the term `whistleblower protections' means the 
        protections against and remedies for a prohibited personnel 
        practice described in paragraph (8), subparagraph (A)(i), (B), 
        (C), or (D) of paragraph (9), or paragraph (14) of section 
        2302(b).
    ``(b) Responsibilities of Head of Agency.--The head of each agency 
shall be responsible for the prevention of prohibited personnel 
practices, for the compliance with and enforcement of applicable civil 
service laws, rules, and regulations, and other aspects of personnel 
management, and for ensuring (in consultation with the Special Counsel 
and the Inspector General of the agency) that employees of the agency 
are informed of the rights and remedies available to them under this 
chapter and chapter 12, including--
            ``(1) information regarding whistleblower protections 
        available to new employees during the probationary period;
            ``(2) the role of the Office of Special Counsel and the 
        Merit Systems Protection Board with regard to whistleblower 
        protections; and
            ``(3) how to make a lawful disclosure of information that 
        is specifically required by law or Executive order to be kept 
        classified in the interest of national defense or the conduct 
        of foreign affairs to the Special Counsel, the Inspector 
        General of an agency, Congress, or other agency employee 
        designated to receive such disclosures.
    ``(c) Timing.--The head of each agency shall ensure that the 
information required to be provided under subsection (b) is provided to 
each new employee of the agency not later than 6 months after the date 
the new employee begins performing service as an employee.
    ``(d) Information Online.--The head of each agency shall make 
available information regarding whistleblower protections applicable to 
employees of the agency on the public website of the agency, and on any 
online portal that is made available only to employees of the agency if 
one exists.
    ``(e) Delegees.--Any employee to whom the head of an agency 
delegates authority for personnel management, or for any aspect 
thereof, shall, within the limits of the scope of the delegation, be 
responsible for the activities described in subsection (b).''.
    (c) Technical and Conforming Amendment.--The table of sections for 
chapter 23 of title 5, United States Code, is amended by adding at the 
end the following:

``2307. Information on whistleblower protections.''.

           TITLE II--DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS EMPLOYEES

SEC. 201. PREVENTION OF UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS TO MEDICAL RECORDS OF 
              EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    (a) Development of Plan.--
            (1) In general.--Not later than 180 days after the date of 
        the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs 
        shall--
                    (A) develop a plan to prevent access to the medical 
                records of employees of the Department of Veterans 
                Affairs by employees of the Department who are not 
                authorized to access such records;
                    (B) submit to the appropriate committees of 
                Congress the plan developed under subparagraph (A); and
                    (C) upon request, provide a briefing to the 
                appropriate committees of Congress with respect to the 
                plan developed under subparagraph (A).
            (2) Elements.--The plan required under paragraph (1) shall 
        include the following:
                    (A) A detailed assessment of strategic goals of the 
                Department for the prevention of unauthorized access to 
                the medical records of employees of the Department.
                    (B) A list of circumstances in which an employee of 
                the Department who is not a health care provider or an 
                assistant to a health care provider would be authorized 
                to access the medical records of another employee of 
                the Department.
                    (C) Steps that the Secretary will take to acquire 
                new or implement existing technology to prevent an 
                employee of the Department from accessing the medical 
                records of another employee of the Department without a 
                specific need to access such records.
                    (D) Steps that the Secretary will take, including 
                plans to issue new regulations, as necessary, to ensure 
                that an employee of the Department may not access the 
                medical records of another employee of the Department 
                for the purpose of retrieving demographic information 
                if that demographic information is available to the 
                employee in another location or through another format.
                    (E) A proposed timetable for the implementation of 
                such plan.
                    (F) An estimate of the costs associated with 
                implementing such plan.
    (b) Appropriate Committees of Congress Defined.--In this section, 
the term ``appropriate committees of Congress'' means--
            (1) the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
        Affairs and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate; 
        and
            (2) the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and 
        the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of 
        Representatives.

SEC. 202. OUTREACH ON AVAILABILITY OF MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES AVAILABLE 
              TO EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall conduct a program of 
outreach to employees of the Department of Veterans Affairs to inform 
those employees of any mental health services, including telemedicine 
options, that are available to them.

SEC. 203. PROTOCOLS TO ADDRESS THREATS AGAINST EMPLOYEES OF THE 
              DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS.

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall ensure protocols are in 
effect to address threats from individuals receiving health care from 
the Department of Veterans Affairs directed towards employees of the 
Department who are providing such health care.

SEC. 204. COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES STUDY ON 
              ACCOUNTABILITY OF CHIEFS OF POLICE OF DEPARTMENT OF 
              VETERANS AFFAIRS MEDICAL CENTERS.

    The Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study 
to assess the reporting, staffing, accountability, and chain of command 
structure of the Department of Veterans Affairs police officers at 
medical centers of the Department.
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