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Whistle-Blower's Guide to the Fedeal Bureaucracy

NCJ Number
Date Published
44 pages
The booklet describes rules, regulations, and strategies for Federal Government employees who wish to report mismanagement or corruption by supervisors to outside sources.
Government employees who disclose improper or illegal acts to the public face reprisals from their agencies which damage their careers, as evidenced in several case histories. Because the consequences of whistleblowing must be thoroughly understood, the guide examines various options which are reasonable responses to agency wrongdoing, such as anonymous disclosure, dissent within proper channels, and protest following separation from Government service. The case of two General Services Administration employees who criticized illegal contracting methods is described to illustrate weaknesses in strategy which led to their dismissal. These missteps involved inadequate background research into the political aspects of their agency's bureaucracy, delaying too long before deciding on a plan of action, no union affiliation, and failure to obtain legal counsel early. A Federal worker concerned about improper practices should exhaust administrative remedies first, recording all transactions for later use. If the case goes beyond agency channels, the whistleblower may suffer reprisals and must follow bureaucratic procedures for redress until protective legislation is enacted. The following institutions offer appeal alternatives: the agency appellate system, the Civil Service Commission, Congress, unions, public interest advocacy groups, and the media. Several proposals for protecting and encouraging whistleblowers are suggested, including Civil Service reforms, legislation to guard employees' rights, and the establishment of a legal defense fund.