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President Signs into Law New Whistleblower Protections for Employees of Defense Contractors

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On January 28, 2008, President Bush signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (H.R. 4986), which includes a provision protecting employees of defense contractors who blow the whistle on contracting fraud. Section 846 amends 10 U.S.C. § 2409 to protect employees who disclose to Congress, an Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, or a Department of Defense employee responsible for contract oversight or management 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.

A complainant must be filed with the Inspector General (IG) of an agency, and unless the IG determines that the complaint is frivolous, the IG will conduct an investigation. Once the complainant exhausts administrative remedies, the complainant may bring a de novo action in federal court and is entitled to a jury trial. Remedies at the administrative level and in federal court include reinstatement, back pay, compensatory damages, and attorney fees and costs.

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