National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2010 - Continued

Floor Speech

By:  Chuck Grassley
Date: July 21, 2009
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I rise today to support the section 1072 of S. 1390, National Defense Authorization Act of 2010. This section authorizes the Comptroller General of the United States to assess military whistleblower protections.

As everyone knows, I strongly believe whistleblowers play an important role in the accountability of all government. This should also be true for the men and women who wear uniforms and serve in the Armed Forces.

In 1988, Congress passed legislation that gave members of the armed services unique whistleblower protections. Despite this military whistleblower law, I have concerns that military whistleblowers could be underserved by the regulations and processes created by the Department of Defense, DOD, and the DOD, Office of Inspector General, OIG.

During the course of my own investigation of several military whistleblower cases, I learned some matters which may question how effectively military whistleblower reprisal cases are handled by the DOD and DOD OIG. The Government Accountability Office, GAO, has noted in its past work that the effectiveness of the Federal protection for military whistleblowers rests principally on a two-stage process of investigation and administrative review. The first stage involves a DOD, service, or guard inspector general's investigation of the specific facts and interpretation of issues associated with a whistleblower reprisal allegation. In the second stage of the investigation/administrative review process, the DOD OIG reviews and approves the findings of the service or guard inspectors general. This review is designed to provide assurance that the findings and recommendations in a report were made in compliance with applicable investigatory guidelines and meet legal sufficiency. The second stage of this procedure is crucial for the military whistleblower process to work as intended.

In addition to the tasking included in S. 1390, the military whistleblower reprisal appeal process should be examined by the GAO as well. The military whistleblower law, 10 USC  1034, gives the Boards for the Correction of Military Records--BCMR--of each armed service the appeal authority in these often unique and complex matters. I believe the report requested by the underlying bill is important and I support its inclusion. However, it is important for the GAO to also study the effectiveness of the BCMR appeal process to ensure military whistleblowers are afforded a fair administrative process to combat reprisal.

Last year, I first introduced the idea of a GAO military whistleblower study when I requested this work of the Acting Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro in a letter dated July 18, 2008. I followed up on my letter to the GAO with a legislative proposal through a filed amendment to the Defense Department appropriations bill for 2009 which instructed the GAO to conduct a comprehensive analysis of this issue. Unfortunately, that amendment did not make it through the legislative process. I thank Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain for including this sensible military whistleblower study in the current bill.

Accordingly, I offer this latest amendment to include a review and analysis of the military whistleblower reprisal appeals heard by the Boards for the Correction of Military Records.

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