October 20, 2005


Serving the Public While Surviving Public Service

[DHN introduction: Often government employees are the only ones who
really know what government is up to. Insiders who spill the beans on
waste, fraud, and abuse ("whistleblowers") are often themselves
abused, harassed, fired, or punished in other ways for revealing the
truth. Whistleblowers are essential to democratic governance -- they
must be protected so they can continue to speak out. --The Editors]

PEER, the Government Accountability Project and the Project on
Government Oversight have joined forces to help public employees who
blow the whistle on waste, fraud, or abuse.

Anonymous Whistleblowing is Safer

Three national nonprofits have joined forces to help public employees
who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, or abuse by releasing a how-to
manual, "The Art of Anonymous Activism: Serving the Public While
Surviving Public Service." Citing the increased dangers of
whistleblowing, the support groups hope the guide will allow more
public employees to come forward while avoiding retaliation from
agencies seeking to hide their foibles and corruption.

The announcement comes as one of the most widely-regarded government
whistleblowers, Dr. Don Sweeney of the Army Corps of Engineers, has
been gagged by his agency from speaking to the public, even on his own
personal time. In 2000 and 2001, Sweeney exposed deliberate efforts by
the Army Corps to manipulate cost/benefit studies in order to
exaggerate the need for massive new agency projects.

"By using these tried and true strategies in our manual, public
employees can make an enormous difference but can also work
anonymously and safely if they choose," said co-author Jeff Ruch,
Executive Director of Public Employees for Environmental

According to government surveys taken since 1992, one in fourteen
federal employees reported being retaliated against in the previous
two years for making disclosures concerning health and safety dangers,
unlawful behavior, and/or fraud, waste, and abuse. Other surveys
suggest that many public employees simply do not report problems
because they think efforts to expose the problems will not lead to

According to Tom Devine, Legal Director of the Government
Accountability Project, judicial rollbacks have severely impacted
federal whistleblower protections: Today federal employees no longer
have credible protections from being fired or harassed when they blow
the whistle." Protections for state employees vary depending on state

Ultimately, working through intermediaries may be the best route for
some. "The best way for whistleblowers to impact public policy is to
get information out to the public while maintaining their anonymity,
letting non-governmental actors like nonprofits and journalists serve
on the front lines. Government agencies often successfully deflect
attention from the policy failures being exposed by attacking the
credibility of publicly identified whistleblowers," said Danielle
Brian, Executive Director of the Project on Government Oversight.

About the Organizations Co-authoring the Guide:

The mission of the Government Accountability Project(GAP) is to
protect the public interest and promote government and corporate
accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending
whistleblowers and empowering citizen activists. GAP offers legal
defense and advocacy for whistleblowers.

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) investigates, exposes,
and seeks to remedy systemic abuses of power, mismanagement, and
subservience by the federal government to powerful special interests.
Founded in 1981, POGO is a politically-independent, nonprofit watchdog
that strives to promote a government that is accountable to the

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a
private, nonprofit organization that protects the government employees
who protect our environment. PEER works with and on behalf of these
resource professionals to effect change in the way government agencies
conduct business. PEER promotes environmental ethics and government

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Copyright 2005