WASHINGTON--- Today Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) urged the Bush Administration to protect whistleblowers at the Small Business Administration (SBA) by instituting a new policy that would prevent SBA managers from gaining unrestricted access to their employees’ emails. According to an Inspector General report, SBA managers began accessing the emails of an SBA employee after the employee served as a confidential source to the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, chaired by Senator Kerry. By law, agency employees have a right to provide information to Congressional committees without interference.
“I am extremely concerned that the SBA’s unchecked power to arbitrarily monitor its employees’ emails will discourage potential whistleblowers from reporting agency misconduct to Congress,” said Senator Kerry.
Last month, Senator Kerry joined the rest of the Senate in unanimously passing the Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act (S. 274), a bill that will further enhance agency employees’ whistleblower protections. The bill specifically prohibits federal agencies from instituting “retaliatory investigations” against whistleblowers like the SBA employee in question, and awaits action in the House.
To read the letter that Sen. Kerry sent to Administrator Preston of the Small Business Administration, please click here.