Senator Jon Tester this week scored another victory for transparency and accountability in government by securing passage of his bipartisan bill to protect federal employees who witness wrongdoing and report it to proper authorities.
Tester's bill protects whistleblowers by providing mediators to hear employees' complaints and allows for a jury trial if necessary. The bill also extends existing whistleblower protections to employees of national security agencies and the Transportation Security Administration.
"Telling truth to power should never be grounds for punishment, especially for folks who work for the federal government," Tester said. "Passing this bill is a victory for transparency and accountability that ensures that government employees who see waste, fraud and abuse can safely report it."
Tester's bill originally passed the Senate in May, but the House of Representatives made minor changes, requiring the bill to pass the Senate again before being signed by the President.
Tester, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also sponsored a bill that strengthens whistleblower protections for employees of private businesses who contract with the federal government. That bill awaits a vote by the full Senate.
The Department of Justice also recently followed Tester's direction and added an ombudsman to protect the rights of whistleblowers at the department. Tester urged the department to act even before his bill passed the Senate after whistleblowers revealed the failure of Operation Fast and Furious, the department's strategy of allowing guns sold in the U.S. to end up in the hands of Mexican drug traffickers.
The President is expected to sign the bill.