In January, there were some particularly important developments with respect to whistleblower protections in connection with federal grants and contracts, as well as Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) information on the second fiscal cliff deadline and how executive agencies should begin preparing for the worst. Because of the importance of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) compliance, we also include information about FCPA compliance guidance issued late last year by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission.
New Whistleblower Protections – Section 828 of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorizations Act (“FY13 NDAA”) significantly expands employees’ protections from reprisal for disclosure of certain information relating to federal grants and contracts of all types (not just defense-related). Under this provision, an employee may not be discharged, demoted, or otherwise discriminated against for “disclosing information that the employee reasonably believes is evidence of gross mismanagement of a federal contract or grant, a gross waste of federal funds, an abuse of authority relating to a federal contract or grant, a substantial and specific danger to the public health or safety, or a violation of law, rule or regulation related to a federal contract (including competition for or negotiation of a contract) or grant.” Notably, these protections apply to grants as well as contracts, and the law is extremely broad and vague in what is considered information worthy of disclosure (e.g., what constitutes “gross mismanagement” or “gross waste”).
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