Whistleblowers Saved the Government $3.3 Billion Last Year

Whistleblowers helped the federal government recover at least $3.3 billion in fiscal year 2012, a record high, according to a Dec. 4 announcement by the Justice Department.

The funds were recovered by whistleblower lawsuits under the False Claims Act. That law allows individuals to report fraud against the federal government – and, if their claims are proven, to receive a share of the money that is recovered.

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Senate Passes Amendments to Shed Light on Contractor Misbehavior

The Senate has approved several amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254), which will bring greater transparency and accountability to federal contracting. The amendments, which OMB Watch endorsed, would strengthen whistleblower protections for federal contractors and grantees, modeled after the protections pioneered in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. 

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Medical Mistake Reporting System Could Make Health Care Safer

Victims of mistakes at hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies could soon have a way to report their experiences to the federal government. This new effort could make health care safer for everyone. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is proposing to create a consumer reporting system for patient safety events

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State and Local Governments Can Enhance Campaign Finance Transparency

I testified last week at a hearing of the District of Columbia Council about ways to strengthen campaign finance transparency. My message was that transparency should be part of any reform approach that the District pursues. My message to the D.C. Council was that transparency should be part of any reform approach that the District pursues. As I pointed out, "Transparency deters corruption, exposes abuse if it does occur, and empowers voters to hold public officials accountable."

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Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Begins Work

This morning, the long-awaited Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is holding its first public meeting. Congress created the board in 2007 to ensure privacy and civil liberties are protected from overzealous domestic counterterrorism activities.  However, the board has laid dormant since its creation. The Senate failed to confirm President Bush's nominees in 2008.

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Protecting Safe Drinking Water and Your Right to Know

On Oct. 11, OMB Watch and 14 other organizations filed comments with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), highlighting ways to strengthen the drinking water quality reports that consumers receive from water utilities. EPA recently proposed changes in how the reports are delivered to consumers, which could actually reduce public access to the information.

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Progress: U.S. Aid Agencies Increase Transparency

 An annual index that grades international aid organizations and agencies based on transparency was published Oct. 1. Publish What You Fund’s 2012 Aid Transparency Index and U.S. Report Card compares several U.S. agencies that provide foreign aid. All of the U.S. agencies improved their scores, many considerably from last year. However, the agencies vary widely in their performance, and overall, the U.S. lags other major foreign aid donors.

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Long Overdue Whistleblower Protections Finally Near?

While the vast majority of public servants are competent and well-intentioned, problems can crop up in government (as in any large organization). To address those problems, we need strong transparency and oversight, including the courage of public servants themselves to step forward and blow the whistle. But currently, federal employees with knowledge of misconduct are discouraged from reporting it due to a lack of protections and fear of retaliation, including being fired. A whistleblower protection bill that would change this could be up for a vote in the House and Senate later today or tomorrow: the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act‎ (WPEA, S. 743).

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New Freedom of Information Guidance Advances Openness

 New guidance issued Friday by the Department of Justice (DOJ) will help to ensure that a little-known part of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) will not be inappropriately used to shield agency activities from public scrutiny.

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New Report Reviews Obama Administration Progress on Open Government

The 2012 Secrecy Report, released today by OpenTheGovernment.org, shows that the Obama administration has enacted a number of constructive transparency measures.  The  administration has made important strides toward a more open and accountable government during the past four years.

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