ENHANCING WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION FOR CONTRACTOR AND GRANTEE EMPLOYEES
(House of Representatives - December 05, 2016)

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[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 174 (Monday, December 5, 2016)]
[Pages H7147-H7149]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




ENHANCING WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION FOR CONTRACTOR AND GRANTEE EMPLOYEES

  Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (S. 795) to enhance whistleblower protection for contractor and 
grantee employees.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                 S. 795

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

     SECTION 1. ENHANCEMENT OF WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION FOR 
                   CONTRACTOR AND GRANTEE EMPLOYEES.

       (a) Protection for Employees of Grantees and Subgrantees.--
       (1) Defense grants.--Section 2409(a)(1) of title 10, United 
     States Code, is amended by inserting ``or personal services 
     contractor'' after ``subgrantee''.
       (2) Civilian grants.--Section 4712(a)(1) of title 41, 
     United States Code, is amended by striking ``or grantee'' and 
     inserting ``grantee, or subgrantee or personal services 
     contractor''.
       (3) Permanent extension of pilot program for enhancement of 
     contractor protection from reprisal for disclosure of certain 
     information.--
       (A) In general.--Section 4712 of title 41, United States 
     Code, is amended--
       (i) in the section heading by striking ``Pilot program for 
     enhancement'' and inserting ``Enhancement''; and
       (ii) by striking subsection (i).
       (B) Clerical amendment.--The table of sections at the 
     beginning of chapter 47 of title 41, United States Code, is 
     amended by striking the item relating to section 4712 and 
     inserting the following new item:

``4712. Enhancement of contractor protection from reprisal for 
              disclosure of certain information.''.

       (b) Prohibition on Reimbursement for Legal Fees Accrued in 
     Defense Against Reprisal Claims.--
       (1) Defense contracts.--Section 2324(k) of title 10, United 
     States Code, is amended--
       (A) by inserting ``or subcontractor, or personal services 
     contractor'' after ``contractor'' each place it appears;
       (B) by inserting ``, subcontract, or personal services 
     contract'' after ``contract'' each place it appears; and
       (C) in paragraph (1), by inserting ``or to any other 
     activity described in subparagraphs (A) through (C) of 
     section 2409(a)(1) of this title'' after ``statute or 
     regulation''.
       (2) Civilian contracts.--
       (A) In general.--Section 4310 of title 41, United States 
     Code, is amended--
       (i) by inserting ``, subcontractor, or personal services 
     contractor'' after ``contractor'' each place it appears;
       (ii) by inserting ``, subcontract, or personal services 
     contract'' after ``contract'' each place it appears; and
       (iii) in subsection (b)(1), by inserting ``or to any other 
     activity described in section 4712(a)(1) of this title'' 
     after ``statute or regulation''.
       (B) Conforming amendment.--Section 4304(a)(15) of title 41, 
     United States Code, is amended by inserting ``or 
     subcontractor, or personal service contractor'' after 
     ``contractor''.
       (c) Inclusion of Contract Clause in Contracts Awarded 
     Before Effective Date.--At the time of any major modification 
     to a contract that was awarded before the date of the 
     enactment of this Act, the head of the contracting agency 
     shall make best efforts to include in the contract a contract 
     clause providing for the applicability of the amendments made 
     by this section and section 827 of the National Defense 
     Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (Public Law 112-239; 
     126 Stat. 1833).

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Utah (Mr. Chaffetz) and the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Cummings) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah.


                             General Leave

  Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous materials on the bill under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Utah?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. CHAFFETZ. I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of this bill, S. 795, a bill to 
enhance whistleblower protection for contractor and grantee employees. 
It is a bill with good bipartisan support in both Chambers of Congress.
  I really do applaud and thank, in particular, the gentleman from 
Maryland (Mr. Cummings), the ranking member on our committee, who has 
helped champion this and point this out and lead our efforts in the 
House on this.
  In the House, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform 
considered an identical bill, the Whistleblower Protections for 
Contractors Act, introduced by Ranking Member Cummings and myself, and 
the committee reported this legislation by unanimous consent. In the 
Senate, it has been Senators McCaskill and Ron Johnson who have worked 
arm in arm on this and are also very supportive of it. Today we bring 
up the Senate version of this bill to expedite its approval to get this 
bill to the President's desk.
  As you know, Mr. Speaker, whistleblowers are invaluable to the 
oversight work of Congress. We rely on people who are on the front 
lines seeing things as they truly are to provide information and blow 
the whistle when they see something going awry. They are one of our 
best sources of information about waste, fraud, and abuse within the 
Federal Government.
  As an institution, we should try to do everything we can to encourage 
them to come and speak with us, and when they do, to make sure that 
they have the proper and adequate protections. That is exactly what 
this bill does, by recognizing that not all whistleblowers are Federal 
employees. We have robust Federal recognition and whistleblower 
protection for Federal employees, and we believe that contractors and 
others should have that as well.
  It makes permanent a successful pilot program that extended 
whistleblower protections to civilian contractor and grantee employees. 
It also ensures whistleblower protections are extended to subgrantees 
and personal services contractors for both defense and civilian 
contractors. It is important because the Federal Government

[[Page H7148]]

spends half a trillion dollars a year on grants and contracts. Think 
about that; half a trillion dollars is going out the door. There is 
always somebody doing something stupid somewhere; so to have this 
protection for a whistleblower as a contractor, for instance, just 
seems wise and prudent.
  In overseeing how these funds are spent, the best source for rooting 
out waste is from grantees, subgrantees, contractors, and 
subcontractors. One loophole this bill closes is that personal services 
contractors were not protected in the past. These contractors can be 
just as valuable in identifying the waste and fraud we are committed to 
preventing in the first place. It only makes sense to offer those 
personal services contractors the same protections we give other 
contractors.
  With this bill, we are sending a strong message to both 
whistleblowers and their employers. We are serious about stopping 
waste, fraud, and abuse, and we are serious about protecting those who 
bring that information forward. Every dollar of wasted funds comes from 
the pocket of the same hardworking men and women who elected us to 
Congress. It is their money. It is not our money. It is not the Federal 
Government's money. It is the taxpayers' money.
  As we work to protect these taxpayer dollars, we also have a duty and 
responsibility to protect these whistleblowers. They are the best 
allies we have. S. 795 accomplishes that goal. An identical bill was 
passed out of our committee. I would appreciate the support of our 
colleagues to further this.
  Again, I thank Mr. Cummings for his good work and passion on this.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. CUMMINGS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of S. 795. I introduced the 
House companion of this legislation, the Whistleblower Protections for 
Contractors Act. We are taking up the Senate measure today to make sure 
this bill can be signed by the President before the end of this 
Congress.
  I want to thank Senator McCaskill for all of her hard work and 
Senator Johnson for all that he did to make this bill come to this 
point.
  I would also like to give special thanks to Chairman Chaffetz for 
being an original cosponsor and helping bring this bill to the floor. 
Our committee has always stood hand in hand with regard to protecting 
whistleblowers, and we have made it abundantly clear that we will do 
everything in our power to protect them from any type of retaliation or 
any type of harm.
  Whistleblowers are the front line of defense against waste, fraud, 
and abuse. Employees who work on Federal contracts and grants see 
firsthand when taxpayer money is being wasted. They risk their careers 
to challenge abuses of power and mismanagement of government resources. 
They must be protected against retaliation when they blow the whistle 
on wrongdoing.
  Just the other day, we had a witness come before our committee, and 
it was clear that she was very, very concerned about retaliation to the 
point of almost being shaken. You could actually see it. When we see 
these folks, we realize and we are reminded of the fact that they bring 
a very important resource to us as the Committee on Oversight and 
Government Reform, and that is they bring us information, information 
that allows us to be able to address problems that we wouldn't even 
know about if it were not for them.
  I thank Chairman Chaffetz and our entire committee for taking the 
attitude of protecting whistleblowers to the greatest extent we 
possibly can.
  This bill would ensure that more employees are protected by giving 
subgrantees and personal services contractors the same whistleblower 
protections currently given to contractors, grant recipients, and 
subcontractors. This bill also would make protections for civilian 
contractors and grantees permanent. These are protections that 
contractors and grantees of the Department of Defense already enjoy.
  I urge every Member of Congress to stand up for whistleblowers, to 
stand up for good government, and to pass this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge all Members to vote in favor of this very 
important and meaningful legislation.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, I urge adoption.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of S. 795, a bill to 
enhance whistleblower protection for contractor and grantee employees.
  The Government Accountability Project, a leading U.S. organization in 
support of Federal whistleblower laws, supports without qualifications 
S. 795, legislation to make permanent a pilot program that provides 
whistleblower rights for employees of government contractors.
  The ``Pilot program for enhancement of contractor protection from 
reprisal for disclosure of certain information'' (pilot program) was 
established under 41 U.S.C. Sec. 4712, as an amendment to the FY2012 
National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
  Federal whistleblower protection laws are not new; they provide a 
means for government employees to report waste, fraud, and abuse of 
taxpayer resources.
  I support this bill because the bill extends federal contractor 
whistleblower protections to employees of:
  (1) personal services contractors working on defense contracts 
(currently, the protections apply to employees of defense contractors, 
subcontractors, grantees, or sub-grantees); and
  (2) personal services contractors or sub-grantees working on federal 
civilian contracts (currently, the protections apply to employees of 
civilian contractors, subcontractors, or grantees).
  This bill would codify a pilot program that is already in place that 
allows employees of civilian contractors to report waste, fraud, and 
abuse and make permanent the civilian contractor protections.
  S. 795 extends whistleblower protections to employees of 
subcontractors to report waste, fraud and abuse of federal taxpayer 
dollars.
  Whistleblower disclosures by Federal contract employees can save 
lives as well as billions of taxpayer dollars.
  For example, Section 1553 of the Obama Administration's American 
Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) established whistleblower 
protections for all recipients of stimulus funds, including all state 
and local government employees and all contractors, including within 
the IC.
  That provision was credited with the low rate of fraud reported 
around stimulus funds.
  During the Congressional oversight hearings, the Chair of the 
Legislation Committee of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity 
and Efficiency (CIGIE) testified that:
  OIGs indicated that their investigations and reviews of the 
whistleblower complaints had resulted in recovery of approximately 
$1.85 million as of April of the first year it was in force.
  One of the key provisions of ARRA is Section 1553 that gives the 
authority of OIGs to investigate reprisal complaints from non-Federal 
employee whistleblowers.
  Federal whistleblower protection laws play a critical role in keeping 
our Government honest, efficient, and accountable by rooting out waste, 
fraud, and abuse as well as protecting public health and safety.
  Whistleblowers can be some of the most powerful tools in the federal 
government arsenal to protect taxpayer dollars.
  For example, the Securities and Exchange Commission finds of great 
assistance information from whistleblowers who know of possible 
securities law violations that could be among the most powerful weapons 
in the law enforcement arsenal of the Securities and Exchange 
Commission.
  According to USASpending.gov, in Fiscal Year 2015, the Federal 
government spent over $1 trillion in contracts and grants--$438 billion 
in contracts and $614 billion in grants.
  If this bill does not pass, contractors and grantees are in danger of 
losing hard-fought whistleblower protections if current protections are 
not extended.
  This bill makes those protections permanent, ensuring that 
contractors and grantees continue to have the security they need to 
report waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars.
  Much of this funding flows through the prime contractors and grantees 
to subcontractors and sub-grantees.
  The bill applies to subcontractors' existing prohibitions on 
reimbursable costs for contractors, including in their defense against 
retaliation claims by whistleblowers.
  Federal taxpayers should not foot the legal bills for contractors who 
retaliate against employees that report waste, fraud and abuse of 
taxpayer dollars.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Utah (Mr. Chaffetz) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, S. 795.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.

[[Page H7149]]

  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________