New Report Finds Whistleblowers at Risk at Energy Department SitesPosted: Updated:
WASHINGTON D.C. - U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., today released a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that documents examples of retaliation and intimidation against whistleblowers by Energy Department contractors, while the department did little to monitor or stop these abuses.
The senators were joined by two whistleblowers who were fired by contractors at the Department of Energy. Sandra Black, a contractor employee at DOE’s Savannah River site in South Carolina for more than 30 years, was fired for cooperating with the GAO during its collection of information for this report.
Walt Tamosaitis was fired after raising safety and design concerns at a multi-billion dollar construction project to treat high-level radioactive waste at the DOE’s Hanford Reservation in Washington.
“When you retaliate against an employee for cooperating with an investigation about retaliation, it shows there is truly no limit to the lengths the department and its contractors will go to dodge accountability,” Wyden said. “It’s time to end the ‘war on whistleblowers’ at the Energy Department.”
“Whistleblowers are our first line of defense against misconduct and waste of taxpayer dollars,” said McCaskill, a former Missouri State Auditor. “The Department of Energy’s continued failure to protect whistleblowers from retaliation has tapped the last of our patience. When agencies and their contractors seek to silence whistleblowers and dodge accountability, it only discourages other employees from speaking up, and it’s time to put an end to it.”
"This new GAO report makes clear that the Department of Energy has utterly failed to protect whistleblowers from retaliation by its contractors,” Markey said. “Whistleblowers are our modern day Paul Reveres, shedding light on unsafe, wasteful and possible illegal activities. They should be applauded and rewarded, not threatened and fired. And the American taxpayer should not foot the bill for legal fees for DOE contractors who’ve engaged in wrongdoing. DOE must hold its contractors accountable for engaging in retaliation and harassment and reform this dangerous culture of disregard for the law.”
Wyden, McCaskill and Markey requested the GAO report in March 2014.