Two days ago on 1/28/08 President Bush signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2008. This legislation includes a provision protecting defense contractor employees who blow the whistle on contracting fraud. 10 U.S.C. § 2409 has specifically been amended via Section 846 to protect employees for disclosing “information that the employee reasonably believes is evidence of gross mismanagement of a Department of Defense contract or grant, a gross waste of Department of Defense funds, a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or a violation of law related to a Department of Defense contract (including the competition for or negotiation of a contract) or grant.” Obviously, this new whistleblower protection encourages defense contractor employees to come forward if they have knowledge of such misconduct.
The new whistleblower law is intended to protect all defense contract employees to come forward in good faith so that they need not fear reprisal if they do so. If the employee who blows the whistle on contractor fraud is retaliated against, the affected employee may file a complaint with the Inspector General of the Agency and unless the complaint is determined to be frivolous, the Inspector General will conduct an investigation. If the employee is not satisfied with the Inspector General’s handling of the complaint, the employee may bring an action in federal court and is entitled to a jury trial. If the complainant is retaliated against for bringing legitimate good faith complaints of government contract fraud out in the open, then his or her remedies would include reinstatement, back pay, compensatory damages, attorneys fees and costs.
This new law is a giant step forward when it comes to protecting whistleblowers who are brave enough to come forward and expose defense contractor misconduct. By protecting such employees from retaliation, the law is intended to encourage their coming forward to expose waste, fraud and mismanagement. If the employee who does come forward is retaliated against as a result of blowing the whistle, this law is intended to make sure that they will be fully compensated for any damages sustained as a result of such retaliation including reinstatement of the job taken from them or reimbursement for wages and benefits lost as a result of any retaliation. As stated, the employee is also entitled to have his or her attorneys fees and costs paid should they be retaliated against for blowing the whistle.
This is an excellent piece of legislation which is good for the country and hopefully will help to reduce defense contractor fraud and abuse.