When the Wall Street “bailout” grew with Congress’ creation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), Sen. Chuck Grassley emphasized the importance of “whistleblowers” and the False Claims Act to protecting these taxpayer funds from fraud and abuse.
Tonight, the House added to the bailout by passing the economic stimulus package, HR 1, and approved an amendment adding whistleblower protection for federal employees.
The stimulus bill reportedly provides for $523 billion in spending, and $275 billion in tax cuts. It originally lacked protection for federal employees who are whistleblowers. An amendment by Reps. Todd Platts, R-Pa., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. added those protections from last year’s thwarted Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which cleared the House but not the Senate.
The history of government spending programs proves beyond doubt that the vast majority of fraud and abuse can only be revealed by whistleblowers. Protecting taxpayer dollars means protecting and rewarding whistleblowers. As Sen. Grassley observed in a November 17, 2008 letter about TARP:
As a longtime supporter of whistleblowers, I can attest to the fact that whistleblowers are often the key to uncovering schemes to defraud the government. With their inside knowledge of how businesses, corporations, or government agencies operate they are often privy to information that is often the necessary component to piece together how a fraud is perpetrated.
Both the False Claims Act and the IRS Whistleblower Program will be important in stopping fraud and misuse of taxpayer funds. When there is fraud, there is often an IRS violation as well.