The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is being amended to make permanent a “pilot program” of whistleblower protections established in 2013.
When announcing this move, the government affirmed its commitment to enhanced whistleblower protection for government contractor employees and clarified existing rules.
Whistleblower protections for contractor employees were first added to the FAR as part of reforms mandated by the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994. These provisions remained unchanged until September 2013, when an interim rule implemented a four-year pilot program to enhance these protections under contracts with civilian agencies (while temporarily suspending the original provisions). The proposed rule implements Congressional direction to make the pilot program permanent. DoD, NASA, and the Coast Guard have their own whistleblower protection system codified in 10 U.S.C. 2409.
Under the pilot program, now being made permanent, a contractor or subcontractor employee who believes he or she was discharged, demoted, or discriminated against for making a covered disclosure may file a complaint with the agency’s Inspector General within three years of the alleged reprisal. The initial whistleblower protection regulations had encompassed only disclosures to a Member of Congress, an authorized agency official, or the Department of Justice of information “relating to a substantial violation of law related to a contract.”
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