In a report titled “Limited Surveillance at the FDA: Protecting the Rights of Federal Whistleblowers,” Representative Issa and Senator Grassley offer crucial guidance for agencies to avoid abusing surveillance technology as a tool to retaliate against whistleblowers. The report recommends that agency surveillance or monitoring policies include the following safeguards (see page 11 of the report):
- protect employees against retaliation if communications with Congress, the OSC, or personal attorneys are captured through monitoring;
- establish procedures that ensure protected whistleblower communications cannot be used for retaliation;
- develop clear guidance for identifying and filtering protected communications so that protected communications are not retained or shared for any reason;
- employees or contractors involved in the monitoring process should be trained on the safeguards; and
- employees should be notified that their communications with Congress and the OSC are protected by law.
Hopefully agencies will review the report carefully and take whistleblower rights into account in formulating and implementing electronic surveillance policies.